By Hamza Jilani
Somalilandsun – A visiting member of Somaliland’s parliament has sought Qatar’s diplomatic support for his “country’s” efforts to gain international recognition as an independent state.
Nasir Hagi, MP of the Republic of Somaliland, who was on a personal visit to Doha, wanted to muster support for his homeland’s independence from Somalia but he said he was not successful in his attempts.
“Maybe it was due to my mission’s unofficial status,” he told Gulf Times in an interview.
Currently, Somaliland exists as a de facto state in the Horn of Africa but is praised for its haven status in terms of peace and stability in a volatile region. While having full local support, diplomatic missions around the world, a constitution ratified by 97% of its people along with democratic elections, the “country” and its borders remain unrecognised by the international community as sovereign.
“We operate as an autonomous nation in the Horn of Africa. We want internationally-recognised independence from Somalia. There’s no turning back and the world has to know that,” Hagi insists.
According to the African Union’s constitution, borders cannot be adjusted or recognised after what has been set by the colonialist era – some 50 years ago.
Hagi says that this is in place to prevent further violence in the continent that has a recurring history of disputes leading to war.
“The international community refers to answering of our calls for recognition as ‘opening Pandora’s box’; that, if we gain independence, other communities will want theirs as well, which could lead to bloody disputes,” he explains. “But British Somaliland had borders and was recognised.”
In 1960, the former British Somaliland gained independence as the State of Somaliland but then united with the then Trust Territory of Somalia shortly afterwards to form the Somali Republic.
In 1991, after Somalia’s meltdown at the hands of former Somali president Siad Barre, the areas which formerly covered British Somaliland declared independence – breaking away from Somalia. In May 1991, the creation of the Republic of Somaliland was announced, with the local government regarding it as the successor to the former British Somaliland.
“The people – who currently number 3.5mn officially – want independence and recognition,” he says.
“We have enjoyed various forms of support from the Arab Gulf states: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is our main importer of locally raised goats, sheep and camels; Kuwait has invested $10mn for the establishment of two airports; and the UAE is drilling for oil.”
Recognising and appreciating Qatar’s effective and generous efforts in mediation and charity work, Hagi said he was looking for Doha’s help to gain recognition.
“Qatar has supported our country with food and other aid materials and we are asking them to engage Somaliland directly and send a delegation to see what’s happening on the ground. We believe that this can happen. Qatar accepts our passports and issues visas to our people,” he says.
He is optimistic that Somaliland’s future is bright, adding that its economy has reached stability and recovery after Siad Barre’s exit.
“Petroleum company Genel Energy is on the ground searching for oil and gas, the government of Somaliland enjoys a healthy political life with diplomatic missions in countries like the US, the UK, Sweden, Sudan and Kenya to mention a few.”