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Somaliland: Africa’s Best Kept Secret
Ghana's 'DAILY GUIDE ' newspaper coverage of the “Somaliland and the African Union in the Horn of Africa” symposium at the Kofi Anan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra.
Accra, June 28, 2007 – AS THE African Union (AU) girds its loins for a heated debate next week on how soon it should take the continent to get unionized into a United State of Africa, one fact that many people may be unaware of is that a couple of her states are also scheming for individual recognition and acceptance into the comity of nations.
One such nation, Somaliland, is leaving no stone unturned in a bid to get the much desired international recognition as a de jure state.
During a special symposium at the Kofi Anan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in Accra yesterday, participants were taken through series of convincing actualities on how the world is unduly delaying in not recognizing the de facto state in the Horn of Africa.
Making a case for his country, the Somaliland Foreign Minister, Hon. Abdillahi Duale said his country was not seeking to secede from Somalia, but to undo what he described as an ill-advised union between Somaliland and Somalia, a thing that took place shortly after both countries attained independence in 1960.
The ‘marriage of convenience’ however hit the rocks in 1991 and Somaliland, after opting out of the union, had since stayed on its own as a de facto state.
According to him, the ‘divorce’ was dictated by an imbalance between the two former colonies, a growing repression of the Gen. Siyad Barre’s dictatorial regime, and the devastation caused by the protracted civil war in Somalia.
“Since that time, Somaliland has forged a stable, peaceful, democratic country, while Somalis remains mired in internecine chaos,” he noted, stressing that his country needed to be recognized for the sake of regional integration.
Hon. Duale further argued that at a time Somaliland opted out of the 1960 union, 97 per cent of those who turned up in a referendum gave their consent for a pullout, leading to a proclamation by a ‘Grand Conference of the Northern Peoples’.
He contended that the decision of the 3.5 million Somaliland people was not unique in any way in that it was a simple step akin to what happened to Egypt, Gambia and Senegal.
“We are looking for a positive demonstration and interest in our issue, and we want the AU to recognize us and we insist that the Somaliland issue be looked at,” the Somaliland Foreign Minister observed, adding that there was the danger of slipping back into chaos and poverty if recognition and acceptance were delayed.
Contributing, Dr. Iqbal Jhazbhay, an analyst and lecturer at the University of South Africa stated it was a historic opportunity for Ghana to host the 9th AU Summit, and a democratic mouthpiece on the continent to share in the sub-regional experiences along the lines of NEPAD.
Describing Somaliland as a rare mixture of tradition and modernity, Dr Jhazbhay revealed that the country currently had its own flag, currency, reserve bank, budget and international passport, contending that between 1991 and now, she had held two parliamentary and local government elections, and survived without any foreign assistance.
Dr. Jhazbhay further assured that engaging with Somaliland would neither open any Pandora’s Box nor create problems for the AU.
“Somaliland qualifies for statehood. The AU will be doing justice to justice if it comes up with a sub-committee to look into her issue and come up with recommendations for a way forward. There are only two ways out, and the better option is the path of dialogue.”
The Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Hon. Seyoun Mesfin averred it would be wrong to play the ostrich by pretending that the Somaliland issue was not worth considering, and called on the two nations to dialogue the issue and refrain from war, saying Ethiopia’s role in the matter should not be construed as double standards.
The theme of the symposium was: ‘The African Union and Somaliland in the Horn of Africa.’ Present at the seminar were Major-General J.K. Attipoe, Commandant of KAIPTC and Dr. Kwesi Aning, Head of CPMRD.
For now, Ambassadors and Foreign Ministers on the continent are locked up in marathon meetings ahead of the 9th African Union Summit slated for July 1-3, 2007 in Accra.
Source: DAILY GUIDE