Somaliland: Democracy And Self-Determination

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By: Ahmed Kheyre

LONDON – Once again the thrust and parry of democratic debate has broken out across Somaliland as voters prepare to participate in the local council election scheduled for the 28th November 2012.

This is the third level of free and fair elections with individual mandate to take place in Somaliland.

First, there were the two directly elected Presidential elections, in which the latter saw the peaceful transition of power.

Secondly, the parliamentary elections based on a proportional representation system, which will be replaced by the “first past the post” system in the next vote.

And thirdly, the forthcoming local council elections to select Mayors, regional and council representatives, and to also determine the three parties will contest future Presidential and parliamentary elections.

All this and more in a de-facto state, unrecognized by the international community, which in itself is a remarkable achievement.

Remarkable!

No, not just remarkable, but extraordinary.

But, then, Somaliland is an extraordinary place. A beacon of hope in Africa. It has been referred to as being Africa’s best kept secret.

However, what is most extraordinary about Somaliland is its people, the Somalilanders.

Irrespective of social, economic or community affiliation, Somalilanders have chosen to take their destiny in their own hands and are determined to make their country a de-jure state.

Having said that, whilst Somaliland has lots of friends and admirers within the international community, it also has a lot of enemies.

For reasons only known to them, successive undemocratic and unrepresentative politicians from Somalia continue to lay claim to Somaliland.

Conveniently forgetting that in 1960 two sovereign and independent countries joined to form the defunct Somali Republic.

These politicians appear to be delusional, and sadly, the international community continues to feed that delusion.

Imbalanced, imperfect and un-ratified by the citizens of Somaliland, the union of 1960 was doomed to fail from the start.

And so it proved in 1991 with catastrophic results.

The destruction of the Somali Republic in 1991 laid waste to Somaliland, its people, its cities, everything.

Not to mention those who perished and continued to suffer in the mayhem in Somalia. The union in 1960 has a lot to answer for.

Since 1991 Somaliland has charted its own course, reclaimed its sovereignty, and declared its independence within its borders on the 26th of June 1960.

In the two decades since 1991, a new generation of Somalilanders have grown up knowing nothing but Somaliland and those of us old enough to remember the bad old days are divided into two camps; those who are Somalilanders, and those who keep rushing to Mogadishu only to be used and abused all over again.

There is an old truth “those who do not learn from their past are destined to repeat it”, as Somaliland’s democracy takes roots, I think we can safely say, lesson learned.

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