A response to Jesper Carlsen Cullen’s piece titled” A third way for Somaliland and Somalia”
By: Mohamed A. Mohamoud and
Mohamed A. Duale
We write with reference to Jesper Carlsen’s piece titled” A Third way for Somaliland and Somalia” published on 19 January, 2012 on Somaliland Times and various Somaliland websites.
First, Mr. Jesper selected to discuss a topic that he is not familiar with thus a novice. However, we have to thank to Jesper for raising an interesting and important issue, which touches vital and pivotal issue for Somalilanders and that is the independence of Somaliland.
The central aim of Jesper’s piece is what he called “Loose Union” between Somaliland and Somalia, which he asserts is the third way option available for Somaliland and Somalia. Before analyzing Jesper’s piece, it’s of paramount important to first explain the historical facts and the union that issues that surround Somaliland’s experience during the 31 years of the fateful amalgamation with the South.
We hope that Jesper would gain knowledge of the history of the union that he is talking about in order to stop insinuating erroneous remedies “A LOOSE UNION”
Somaliland was the first Somali speaking state to become independent on 26 June, 1960 with more than35 Countries as well as the United Nations offering official recognition.
Compared to other contemporary de-facto states then in existence Somaliland became unique historical for having deferred its sovereignty and united with the Ex-Italian trust territory as a result of Somalilanders who started and struggled for the idea of a Greater Somalia.
The folly of this was that Somaliland rushed headlong in to immediate union-unconditionally and poorly prepared. The union was never legally ratified by the two States. Somaliland conceded the presidency, the prime minister, and the key ministerial posts.
The nationalist fervour in with which Somalilanders rushed into union with the Somalia in 1960 quickly turned to disappointment and dissatisfaction when it became apparent that their voice in the government of the Republic was marginal. In 1961 a group of young, Northern army officers that had newly graduated from military colleges in Britain rebelled against what they perceived as unfair treatment by the Southern dominated army leadership and their Southern political masters. This rebellion was quickly put down and the rebels rounded up and imprisoned, however the action of the young officers elicited widespread popular support in the North and the Northern ministers and MPs interceded with the government and the officers were released and reinstated
Right at the outset, the Somali sense of proportional balance was ignored. The South provided the capital city, the anthem, the flag and the constitution. The inequality started from the beginning. According to veteran Hasan Essa Jama, former SNM Chairman, It was not political merger but rather political take over, “The naivety of the political leaders of Somaliland in allowing the Southerners to occupy almost all the high offices of state inevitably resulted in a political takeover rather than a merger of equals. Soon, Somaliland was treated as an administered province and later as an occupied territory”.
While examination how the first friction between the two states started Ambassador Mohamed Osman Omer, who originates from Somalia, notes “The first friction between the two newly Independent territories started when Somaliland felt it had raw deal in the distribution of government seats allocated to it in the first united government in 1960, when the posts of the President and that of the Prime minister were both taken by the “South” while the Prime minister of Somaliland, Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal, was named Minister. Somaliland regarded this as a belittling and humiliating.
In the context of the union experience between Somaliland and Somalia, it is also important to note that during the 31 years of union no infrastructure was constructed in the north, i.e. no roads, schools, hospitals, telecommunication facilities etc.
During the 31 years of union, Somalilanders experienced and suffered one of the worst human rights violations, which included summary executions, rape, torture, imprisonment or detainment without charges. More than 50,000 people were killed and 500,000 people were forced to flee from their towns. These acts flagrantly violated not only human rights norms but also humanitarian norms relating to the protection of victims of non international armed conflicts.
Mr. Jesper, whether you and your fellow Somali unionists like it or not, the fact of the matter is that Somaliland would never re-unite again with Somalia, whatever the circumstances might be. It is a political fact of life that Somalilanders would continue their journey for the quest of recognition even if it takes the coming hundred years.
When Mr. Jesper is talking about loose union, he ignores a fundamental and basic element of self determination and statehood, namely political consent. Citizens of a state must consent to be citizens of that state and they must consent to the political structures of such a state. Anything short of such consent amounts to coercion and negates the legitimacy of the state. The simple fact is that the people of Somaliland will not countenance any arrangement that does not recognize their independence and their right to self determination as a sovereign nation. They voted for this independence in 2001 when they ratified the ‘independence’ constitution by a margin of 97% in favor.
In the middle of his text, Mr. Jesper argues that “THE INDEPENDENCE OF SOMALILAND WOULD FUEL THE CONFLICT IN THE REGION”. To set the record straight, Somaliland’s case poses no threat to the peace and stability in the region as a whole, when it comes to colonial borders in Africa as well as the current political situation prevailing in the region.
According to an Africa Union fact-finding mission report about Somaliland in 2005, “Objectively viewed, Somaliland’s case should not be linked to the notion of “opening a Pandora’s box”. Somaliland’s recognition would serve the greater interest of the region and would contribute the stability and development of the region.
In the end of his text, Jesper argues that “ Somaliland’s governance record has been tarnished in recent years and that the November 2012 local council elections was characterized with multiple voting and bias in the National Electoral Commission. He further states that 20 people were killed during the election”.
First of all, Somaliland has a good elections track record having conducted five successful democratic elections ranging from local councils, parliamentary to presidential during the last ten years and termed properly free and fair by international election missions that observed them.
These elections prove the political maturity of Somaliland people as well as their model of democracy and state building. Nevertheless, there have been a number of Post-election violence, like the recent one where four people died and it’s also worthy to mention that there have been shortcomings and multiple voting during the 2012 local council elections.
This does not mean that Somaliland’s democracy is tarnished and every new transitional democracy is expected to encounter the above mentioned problems. Comparing Somaliland’s 2012 local council elections with the elections that took place in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Uganda, one can simply conclude that the post-election violence that erupted in Somaliland was the lowest and most negligible in the region.
According to Jesper’ remark that” Somalilanders are now sympathetic about loose union”; it is not only misleading and false but also artificial, because is not based on the reality on the ground.
One of the main reasons that Somaliland started negotiations with Somalia was to get International recognition and the negotiations have demonstrated Somaliland’s political maturity and that it has grown as a fully functioning state with all traits of democratic government.
Somaliland’s main obstacle in garnering the much needed 21 years quest for recognition emanates from the fact that Somalia remained a failed state during all this period thus a closed door for proper avenues of separation negotiations of two equal independent partners, STATE to STATE.
Let Mr. Jesper and his Unionist minded be reminded that Somaliland’s independence is non-negotiable and irrevocable. Somaliland leaders are bound by the Constitution of Somaliland, which mandates them to safeguard the independence of Somaliland.
Mohamed A. Mohamoud and
Mohamed A. Duale
Somaliland Independent Intellectual Forum (SIIF)