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Progressio Asks MPs To Support Somalilander’s Steps To Democracy
London, Jul 7, 2006 – Progressio's leading Somaliland expert, Dr Steve Kibble, asked MPs to support Somaliland's steps towards democracy and its bid for international recognition in his inaugural address to the new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Somaliland on Wednesday 28 June.
Dr Kibble, Progressio Advocacy Coordinator for Africa and Yemen, said to MPs: 'The people of Somaliland brought peace to their country through indigenous methods of dialogue, using clan structures with input from elders and women, albeit behind the scenes. However, there is now a need for outside assistance to Somaliland on questions of democratization, given that the government and political parties still appear, according to sources there, new to running a democracy. At the same time outsiders need to understand the hybrid form of Somaliland politics with the Guurti council of elders as an element of stability. Given what is happening in Somalia and the dangers of Islamist violence in Somaliland, there is a need to engage those of fundamentalist persuasion but who would never resort to violence.'
Progressio is pleased that the APPG plans to meet the Rt Hon Margaret Beckett, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, and urge her to consider Somaliland's call for recognition sympathetically. Dr Kibble said that the international community had seemed about to line up behind the African Union after an AU report looked sympathetically at the case for Somaliland's recognition. But world attention has now focused on the recent victory of Supreme Council Islamists in Somalia over warlords who had previously controlled and pillaged Mogadishu, although he warned that the situation there is less clear-cut than the international media has presented it, as certain warlords are aligned with the Islamists. He is concerned that this perceived Islamist threat may put Somaliland on a 'back-burner'.
Dr Kibble said: 'Progressio believes a multi-track approach is needed and backs the think-tank International Crisis Group's suggestion that Somaliland is granted observer status in the African Union while the question of their legitimate claim to recognition is addressed. We also need a better understanding of clan dynamics, particularly of how the warlord issue intertwines with the Islamist one in Somalia.'
Progressio wants the UK government to help Somaliland by encouraging investment in the country and by developing Somaliland's infrastructure - roads, schools, clinics and Berbera port - through the G8 Gleneagles agreement and the New Partnership for African Development. As a means to this end, Progressio suggests that the APPG visit Somaliland, talk to its politicians and civil groups, and liaise with Somalilander and Somali diaspora groups in the UK and with South African parliamentarians who are also keen to help Somaliland's drive to democratization.
The APPG was set up by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP, Kerry McCarthy MP and Somaliland Focus UK. Progressio coordinated an international election observation team for Somaliland's elections in September 2005, and as a result Somaliland Focus UK was formed.
Notes to editors
For further information, please contact Clare Jeffery on 020 7354 0883 or at email@example.com.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Somaliland is chaired by the Rt Hon Alun Michael MP. Baroness Whitaker, John Bercow MP and a Liberal Democrat MP are to be deputy chairs, and Kerry McCarthy MP is secretary. Somaliland Focus UK will act as the All Party Group's secretariat.
Somaliland Focus UK raises awareness of Somaliland's need for support in its democratization process. It comprises former election observers and Somalilanders in the UK and other interested parties, including Progressio.
The International Crisis Group is an international conflict resolution think-tank based in Brussels.
The New Partnership for African Development is an African initiative for African self-reliance, good governance and better development initiatives.
The Guurti is an unelected male council of elders in Somaliland that had a major role in brokering peace after the country declared independence from Somalia in 1991.
Dr Steve Kibble is an extensively published specialist on politics, development and human rights on Somaliland, Zimbabwe, Angola, East Timor, South Africa and Yemen. As Progressio Advocacy Coordinator for African/Yemen, his work involves advocacy with African partners, UK/European institutions and networks for African leaders to increase democratization and respect for human rights.
Source: CIIR/ Progressio