Somaliland: A Democracy in the Horn of Africa
Hargeisa, 14 July 2009 (Somalilandpress) – According to some recent articles, quoted from a report from Human Rights Watch presented in Hargeisa, the capital city “Somaliland, “cautions that Somaliland is at a crucial juncture after an unlikely recent history of democratic progress and relative stability in the Horn of Africa. Somaliland is in danger of losing its democratic and human rights gains…” according to a human rights group. Let us examine these statements in detail.
The report was actually presented in Hargeisa, not in some foreign city, but in the capital city of Somaliland. This is an example of Somaliland’s political maturity. There was no attempt to block or muzzle the report by the Somaliland authorities, and it has been freely printed and discussed in the press. How many nations in the world can boast such a freedom of expression?
The report, although by and large based on the delay in the Presidential elections caused by problems with the voter registration programme, does mention, Somaliland hasn’t turned into a “Somalia”, and is not likely to do so.
There is still the process of law, the judicial system is working, and the legislative system is fully functional. The Presidential election will be held on the 27th of September, 2009, and as recently as a few days ago all three Somaliland political parties signed their declaration of intent with the National Elections Commission.
According to Human Rights Watch senior researcher Chris Albin-Lackey “The West’s failure to engage with Somaliland as separate from the rest of war-torn Somalia is a missed opportunity”. For eighteen years, the people and the leadership of Somaliland have been saying the same thing.
Mr. Albin-Lackey goes on to state “Somaliland’s unique success story within a region where human rights violations are the norm should give additional impetus to the fight to save the territory’s democracy”. Once again let me reassure Mr. Albin-Lackey and all at the Human Rights Watch, the citizen’s of Somaliland wholeheartedly agree with this view, and are more than willing to join in the protection of their democracy, and they will be glad to learn that the rest of the world will finally acknowledge its unique success, and come on board.
The report also goes on to mention that there is a need for “a new policy framework on the part of international donors that looks at the realities on the ground in Somaliland..Greater willingness to invest time and resources to following what is going on here and finding effective ways both to provide assistance..”. This is not entirely accurate, there have been many nations engaging Somaliland for the past eighteen years, including the US, UK, EU and other interested parties. In fact, the US, UK and EU continue to provide funds for capacity building including voter registration, education and elections.
Looking at this report in an objective manner, the government of Somaliland and its leadership have not denied the process of law or habeas corpus to any of its citizens. There are no allegations of summary executions or beheadings or detentions, this is after all democracy.
The report is merely stating the Somaliland’s democracy is at the crucial juncture, and needs the support of the international community in order to safeguard this unique success story. There will not be many reasonable people who will disagree with this statement.
In conclusion, it worth noting that Somaliland has cooperated with the United States and other Western nations in combating terrorism and piracy . Isn’t this a mark of true democracy in a dangerous world.
Views expressed in the opinion articles are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the editorial