NAIROBI, Kenya — The leader of the breakaway republic of Somaliland has called on Africa and the world to recognize his country in the wake of a successful run-up to democratic elections that take place today.
This is Somaliland’s third national vote since seceding from Somalia in 1991.
President Dahir Rayale Kahin, from the ruling Unity of Democrats (UDUB) party, told The Washington Times that Somaliland had fulfilled all requirements for sovereignty and that the notion of a united Somalia with its capital in Mogadishu was “no longer a reality.”
“In 14 years, we have created a free and stable country and held multiparty elections at local and presidential level plus a referendum on our constitution,” he said. “This parliamentary poll is the final step in the process, and we have earned the right to recognition.”
Somaliland, originally a British protectorate, achieved independence from London in 1960 and immediately joined with the former Italian Somaliland in the south to form a single state known as the Republic of Somalia, with Mogadishu as the capital.
A coup in 1969 ushered in the dictatorial regime of President Siad Barre who was overthrown by warlords in 1991 after which the country collapsed into anarchy.
Two years later, the former British Somaliland, which had been fighting an insurgency battle for independence, re-established the colonial boundaries and set up its own government in the territory’s largest city, Hargeisa, but no country has recognized this republic of 3.5 million people.
“There have been many unions that have not worked out, and the partners have gone their own way,” Mr. Kahin said. “Senegal and Gambia, Libya and Egypt, Egypt and Syria. And when the two broke up, each was recognized as an independent state. We ask no more than this for Somaliland.”
The difference, however, is that, in all other cases, both parties agreed to the divorce, but the southern Somalis in Mogadishu have campaigned for reunification and will not accept Hargeisa’s independence.
Even so, neighboring Ethiopia allows its national airline to fly directly to Hargeisa, Somaliland passports are now accepted in most African countries, and high-level delegations from Mr. Kahin’s government have held discussions with government leaders in both London and Washington.