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Does Unity or Secession bring Strength and Progress ? By Abdullahi Hassan Mohamed

Recently, on the occasion of 20th anniversary of Somaliland’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) from Somalia, was celebrated colorfully on May 18, 1998.  During the celebration of this event, the leaders of Somaliland’s administration have vowed vehemently to intensify the struggle for obtaining international  recognition of independence, even if it takes period of one hundred years, according to them.

It’s to be recalled that the Republic of Somalia became independent country, on July 1,1960 as a result of the unity between southern and northern Italian and British Protectorate Somali territories, where British Protectorate Somaliland gained its independence on June 26, 1960.

Consequently, referendum on the national Constitution of Somali Republic, was held on June 20, 1961, where the Constitution of Somalia overwhelmingly confirmed,  when  1,952,662  adults  officially  recorded  as  having  voted,  with 90 percent in favor.

What were the factors helped and quickened the unity between northern and Southern parts of Somalia.? First of all, the strong factor in this regard, is that the people of northern and southern parts of Somalia enjoy a high degree of homogeneity, where, almost all the inhabitants of northern & southern Somalia, belong to Somali kinship-one ethnic origin, sharing the Somali language, tradition, culture, religion, history, and social values.

Secondly, as a result of the whole-hearted and unequaled unity favored decisions and initiatives taken by the former leaders, ugases, sultans and people of Somaliland had accelerated the unity between northern & southern parts of Somalia.

It is undeniable fact that, before, during and after, the European occupation, the people of southern and northern Somalia, had maintained to their unity, through cultural, traditional, religious, trade and social contacts and inter-actions, till today, despite the Republic of Somalia had been fragmented, as a state, nation and country, in to many tiny cantons, clan affiliated administrations.

What ware the achievements accomplished by Somaliland’s administration during the past 20 years?
Actually, although Somaliland had suffered from the effects of the intra-fighting, turmoil during the first couple of years, it had achieved peace and stability, and built democratic system, by introducing democratic constitution.
Accordingly, Somaliland held 3 presidential elections, in which, the people of Somaliland elected their favored president democratically.

Evidently, the citizens of Somaliland, at home and abroad made significant contributions to the socio-economic recovery, peace and tranquility in their country.

Suffice it to say that Somaliland shown leadership ability to administrate its people and manage its internal affairs, by succeeding in surmounting all political and social upheavals, despite the absence of the international recognition.

At the same time, Somaliland had promoted the socio-economic political and security cooperation with the neighboring Horn of African Countries.
Meanwhile, there were undemocratic practices and mistakes committed by the first two successive administrations of Somaliland, against individual politicians and intellectuals who support the unity of Somalia, by incarcerating, harrassing them and stifling their supporting opinions and positions.

It is a plain fact that the members Somali Parliament (Originally from Somaliland) had been incarcerated and charged with what was called “national treason” by joining the parliament of Somalia. Unfortunately, in Somaliland, it is taboo to utter and whisper about matters concerning Somali unity.

2-Even, at present, the Somalilanders, be politicians, intellectuals and members of the public, are not allowed to discuss freely and openly, about the issue of the Somali unity.

No doubt, these practices breach the basic tenets of the Constitution of Somaliland, and violate the democratic rights and freedom of expression of citizens.What are the best alternative solution to the pending issue of Somaliland’s recognition?

Surely, 20 years had past without getting international recognition, so it is naïve and illusive to believe that the obtainment of international recognition of independence, would enable Somaliland to solve the multifaceted political, socio-economic and security problems.  To the contrary, the insistent demand for secession could divide the people of Somaliland on the basis of tribes, and generate endless violence and tensions in Awdal, Sool, Sanag and Cayn, regions, where the inhabitants of these areas are opposing aggressively, this contentious issue of secession and favoring the unity of Somalia.

I think the argument of the secession and disintegration of Somalia, is unjustifiable, inconvincible and inconceivable, at a time, when repressive regime of Said Barre, which brutalized and tyrannized the people of Somaliland, had collapsed and vanished from the planet.  While the oppressed Somalilanders are, today, enjoying peace and stability.  Thus, there is no need to divide the family members on the basis of north and south. 

Why Somali National Movement (SNM) opted for Secession?
First of all it is wise that we should not forget that the former leaders of Somaliland were architects and founding fathers of the unity of Somali Republic.   Nevertheless, the people of Somalia, in general and the masses of northern Somalia in particular, had suffered and exposed to systematic political, socio-economic marginalization, injustice, repression, and untold collective punishment, inflicted by Said Barre’s regime.

3-In responding to these grave atrocities, SNM, SSDF, USC and SPM, took up arms  against military government, with the objective of bringing about radical democratic and socio-economic changes in Somalia. Unfortunately, to the contrary, despite, SNM having had this great principles, it had surrendered itself to the longstanding emotional demand of the Somalilanders, particularly, the majority of Ishaq clan, who had been calling for immediate secession, with the aim of Satisfying their long-running informal and unrevealed demand.

Obviously this unrevealed demand started during the first couple of years, after proclamation of Somali Republic, due to the problem of underrepresentation, according to their own version.  That is why the former leaders of SNM who themselves are from Ishaq Clan, fulfilled the demand of the Somalilanders, disrespecting themselves, by ignoring the glorified and unforgettable heroic history of their fathers.

Absolutely, the Somalilanders  are required to Learn Ethiopia’s rich experience in the field of unity and Federalism, where more than 80 Ethiopian nations, nationalities and peoples are living side by side in peace, brotherhood and solidarity with the frame work of Ethiopian National Unity, on the basis of the national democratic constitution.  It is wise to examine the objective reality in this extreme world, where the globalization is consolidated in the world.

Consequently, emphasizing the importance and strength of unity in diversity, the international community, and all countries over the world are on the move to establish political and socio-economic blocs, with the purpose of prospering their peoples in developing their economies, through collective efforts and cooperation.

It is more important for the Somaliland’s leaders under leadership of H.E. President Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo, to take 3 significant steps, firstly, to rationalize and  revisit its political strategies and principles for secession, promote the democracy and rule of law enforcing institutions and create conducive environment for free and responsible massmedia, with the aim of enabling Somaliland to become a strong hub for democracy and culture for Somalia, Secondly, Somaliland has national, brotherly, social, cultural and historical responsibility towards the people of Somalia, who are suffering from continuing ntractable and devastating civil war, to involve itself in peace and reconciliation efforts in Somalia, so as to bring about peace and tranquility in this Horn of African country.

Note here, Somalia without Somaliland is like a person who does not have a head, surely, unity brings strength, progress and confidence.  Based on these facts, the Somaliland’s political leaders, intellectuals and traditional leaders, are urged to make immortal and great history as their furthers did, in the past, to exert maximum efforts aim at restoring the unity of Somali Republic which could regain its active role in the international community.
Why the international community avoids the recognition of Somaliland?
I think there are legal, moral and social reasons behind international community’s  avoidance of the recognition of Somaliland,  Firstly, the northern & southern Somalia united on July 1,1960, as the Republic of Somalia, and it held referendum on national constitution which was voted and approved by the people of north & south Somalia with 90 percent in favor.

So this national constitution is binding agreement and marriage contract between northern & southern Somalia, in accordance with the international law, unless the contracted sides to agree to divorce each other officially.  Based on the above principles, the international community, including African union does no want to recognize Somaliland without following constitutional procedures and international norms.

Secondly, the international community does not desire to separate and divide the homogeneous people of Somalia, who belong to Somali kinship, sharing the language, religion, culture, tradition and social values.
Thirdly, on the basis of humanitarian and moral ground, it is very difficult for the international community, to recognize Somaliland.  While the people of Somalia, are fomenting and laboring in the volatile situation of  the war-torn Horn of African country.   Top on that, it seems that the international community, including African Union (AU) will not attempt to consider, about disintegration of Somalia,

5-by recognizing Somaliland, where all in habitants of Sool, Sanag, Cayn and Awdal Regions in Somaliland, are totally rejecting the secession of Somaliland from the mainland, Somalia.

There are also, many intellectuals and business people belong to Ishaq clan, who are resisting the secession project.

In my inview in this regard, that Somaliland deserves, development assistance, till to find a durable political solutions that could end the carnage in Somalia.The African Union, UN and the international community at large, have the moral and legal obligation to maintain and preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the Republic of Somalia.    
Abdullahi Hassan Mohamed
The writer of this article can be reached at
citizen20000@ hotmail.com</span>

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