Somaliland: 2012: Another Great Year of Progress

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By: Ahmed Kheyre

LONDON (Somalilandsun) – The recently concluded local council elections in Somaliland have given many a few points to ponder. The relatively peaceful and apparently free and fair conduct of the election had been marred by the shambolic way in which the votes were counted and results announced by the Somaliland National Electoral Commission (NEC).

There have also been rumblings from certain quarters of government interference. However, the fact that the elections were held gives encouragement to those who believe in and support the democratic process in Somaliland.

Democracy is not perfect, but it is the only form of political manifestation that gives hope to the ordinary citizens and allows a nation to join the rest of the civilised world.

The fifth round of democratic elections in Somaliland once again highlights the continuing success of “Africa’s best kept secret”, and its ability to attain its long sought international de-jure recognition.

To those who spend time and energy rejoicing in the teething problems of the democratic process in Somaliland, it would be better to get your own home in order, before worrying about the home of another. Somalilanders are revelling in their democracy.

2012 saw several major events in Somaliland, as well as, events outside Somaliland which had and will continue to have a profound effect on the country.

The year began with the historic London Conference and its subsidiary conferences in Istanbul, Turkey.

The London Conference in which Somaliland’s attendance was crucial and in which, Somaliland, for the first time in the international scene was given its due as an independent and de-facto state was an auspicious start to the year filled with possibilities. Without the presence of Somaliland, the London Conference would have been meaningless, just another one of the countless meetings to sort out the mess in Somalia.

However, the London Conference signalled the beginning of dialogue between the two sovereign nations which created the now defunct “Somali Republic” in 1960 to find a way to cement their future relationship as two neighbouring nations.

These talks continued in the United Kingdom and are set to resume in 2013 once the provisional government in Somalia has firmly established its precarious existence.

The London Conference also led to the creation the Somaliland Development Corporation (SDC), a joint Somaliland-UK partnership designed to facilitate investment in Somaliland.

This joint partnership has led to the opening of the United Kingdom office in Hargeisa, ostensibly to act as a commercial and trade office in order to fulfil the requirements of the SDC, but, more importantly to establish an official UK presence in Somaliland.

2012 saw further developments in the Somaliland business sector with the opening of several large business concerns, including the Coca-Cola Bottling factory. However, unemployment is still a legitimate concern in the country.

The educational, health and other social areas continue to grow in terms of capacity building, enrolment and the provisions of basic public services.  In spite of the heroic efforts of the Somaliland education institutions, graduates face a bleak job market upon graduation.  Once again, lack of recognition limits the extent in which in which Somaliland can grow in these areas.

The Somaliland media continues to hold accountable the political institutions of the country, and it was this kind of sterling work which led to the exposure of the “food aid” theft scandal, which led to the arrest and conviction of several senior members of the administration of President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud “Silaanyo”.

However, the current administration has responded with borderline judicial practices in order to try and suppress the media.  The Somaliland journalistic community is aware of its role as both the vanguard of the nation’s democratic principles and also of the nation’s progress.

On the legislative side, a recently passed parliamentary security bill currently awaiting the President’s signature has been widely condemned by all sectors in Somaliland. The opponents of the bills see it as an infringement of civil liberties and in contravention of the Somaliland constitution. The administration argues the bill is required to safeguard the security and stability of the country.

Several other legislative bills have been widely welcomed in Somaliland, and in particular, the long awaited Banking laws. The passage of this bill will see the creation of commercial banks in Somaliland offering both personal and business services. In terms of the business sector, these new banks will be able to offer prospective entrepreneurs and job creators loans and other credit facilities.

2012 concluded with the holding of the fifth round of elections in Somaliland. These local council elections are designed to enable local authorities to function on a democratic grass roots level, with the selection of its own mayors and council administrators and other functionaries.

The election will also determine which three parties would compete for future parliamentary and presidential elections. In this case, the three parties which emerged in this cycle are The Justice and Welfare Party (UCID), Wadani and Kulmiye.

Insha’Allah, 2013, will see the continuation of the talks between Somaliland and Somalia, and will also allow the beleaguered administration of President Silaanyo to try and set the ship of state on the right course.

In 2010 President Silaanyo was elected with a thumping mandate, almost three quarters through that mandate, his administration is beset by corruption, incompetence and lack of strong leadership. There is still time to try and fulfil the promises of 2010, but Somalilanders patience is wearing thin.

On the positive side, Somaliland is blessed with patriots always willing to answer the call of the nation.

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