The people of the Republic of Somaliland celebrated the 31st anniversary of independence on Wednesday.
Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi and other officials celebrated with the community. The president spoke about what caused Somaliland to withdraw from the union, saying that the people of Somaliland faced injustice and abuse from Somalia.
“When Somaliland was united Somalia unconditionally, Our brothers in the south retained all the important positions, including the president, ministers of foreign and internal affairs, and finance ministry. The capital was in the south, as were the important shipping ports. Southerners dominated the military command structure, and Somaliland was only given three ministerial positions.”
“In the 31 years we have been separated from our brothers, we have not received recognition. We did not get an arbitration; they (Somalia) think we are all part of their state, and we can not say we are free. The president elected yesterday (Hassan Sheikh Mohamud) is no different than the one selected in Arta (Djibouti) over 20 years ago.”
Bihi said that the successive governments that passed through Somalia after the collapse of the central government in 1991 did not give offer any support for Somaliland’s independence.
Despite this, he said that he congratulated Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and hoped that he would not follow the lead of the Presidents before him.
”A peaceful president’s election took place yesterday, and the incumbent who lost conceded graciously in defeat. We welcome that very much. We want you to be peaceful and be brothers,” said the president.
Despite enjoying all the trappings of a state – including elections, currency, and passport – Somaliland lacks international recognition. Many have described it as the most effective de facto state in Africa’s history.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991, following the collapse of the central government. During the reign of Somali strongman Siad Barre, Somaliland bore the brunt of the state repression and violence. Somaliland was a British Protectorate before joining Somalia in 1960 following independence from colonial powers.
Today, Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa is a bustling African metropolis of over 2 million residents. Massive diaspora investments have spurred development, contributing billions to the local economy since declaring independence.
Celebrations were held across the self-declared Republic on Wednesday.
Thousands of young people, women and the elderly from Somaliland gathered in town squares early Wednesday morning to celebrate the event. Businesses and schools were closed for the national holiday.
There was a parade along Independence Road in Hargeisa.
Other regions of Somaliland and municipalities also celebrated the event. The occasion was much broader than previous occasions, with celebrations starting almost ten days before 18 May.