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March 22, 2011

Somaliland ‘yearns for international recognition’


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Somaliland ‘yearns for international recognition’

Lord Anderson of Swansea calls on the international community to recognise the autonomy of the Somaliland region of northern Somalia.

The wind of change is howling around the Arab world. Longstanding autocratic presidents are blown away; monarchs seek to make peace with their people by devising constitutions to limit their powers. In this turbulence there is one outstanding and depressing exception Somalia.

There has been anarchy in the country for some 20 years. The internationally recognised Transitional Federal Government controls but a small part of the territory; various warring clans exercise a form of authority elsewhere. An Islamist movement with links to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has rumoured links to the pirates who successfully create havoc among international shipping across an ever-wider swathe of sea.

Somaliland is the exception, the former British Protectorate with its capital Hargeisa, where the pirates are imprisoned a haven of stability which has recently held democratic elections. The country yearns for international recognition, having been de facto autonomous for many years.

The traditional argument against such recognition has been that of creating a precedent for other disaffected regions in Africa but now Eritrea has broken away from Ethiopia; South Sudan will shortly be independent and there is a spirit of radical constitutional change throughout the Arab world.

Somaliland wishes to join the Commonwealth; already its parliamentarians informally attend meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Surely, now is the time for the British government to revisit the issue and to encourage African members of the Commonwealth to press the African Union to work for international recognition of this remarkable democratic enclave within the classic failed state of Somalia.

Donald Anderson was Labour MP for Monmouth from 1966 until 1970 and for Swansea East from 1974 until 2005, when he was rasied to the peerage.

Source: Yahoo News

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