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Breakaway State Has Achieved Peace, Stability, Democracy
By FRED OLUOCH , Special Correspondent
Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 27, 2006 – It is not without justification that the breakaway republic of Somaliland is seeking international recognition and refusing to rejoin the Transitional National Government in Somalia.
While the government of Abdillahi Yusuf is still looking for a suitable capital, Somaliland has been holding regular parliamentary and presidential elections, albeit without the international community paying much attention.
Since the disintegration of Somalia provoked by the collapse of the Siyad Barre administration in early 1991, leading to the breaking away of Somaliland into a self-declared independent republic, there has been an accelerated process of state building.
Somaliland has a constitution that emanated from grassroots consultations and was sealed in a referendum held in 2003; the constitution serves as the basic law in Somaliland and enjoys respect from politicians. The constitution provides for the relevant arms of government and the effective separation of powers that go along with it.
Somaliland has territory as defined by the colonial borders inherited from British colonial rule on accession to independence in 1960. In the north, the country is bordered by the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, adjoining the Indian Ocean; Puntland State borders it on the east, while Ethiopia neighbors it on the west. To the northwest, Somaliland is bordered by Djibouti.
Somaliland has a population that is estimated by local sources at 3.5 million residents in the country and one million living in the diaspora, the majority of whom fled the civil war. The diaspora has been responsible for remitting much of the capital that is being used for rebuilding the country; most of them live in Europe and the US.
The Somali language is spoken throughout the country, while English and Arabic are also used in official and business transactions. It is not unusual to encounter Somalis who can speak Kiswahili and Italian.
Somaliland has only declared its own independence after "reclaiming it from the collapsed union," according to the country's leadership. But the international community has not recognized that independence so far. However, there is a standing army with a mandate to defend the independence and territorial integrity of Somaliland.
The country has achieved peace and stability through a home-grown disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and internally driven democratization, creating a real economic potential, based on its surface, sub-surface and maritime resources.
Somaliland and Somalia entered into a "Union" in July 1960, based on a shared ambition among the Somalis to build a "Greater Somalia," which was to incorporate all the Somali communities in the Horn of Africa. In the course of time, the union failed.
The legacy of the abortive union and the resulting civil war was physical and social dislocation.
Source: The East African