HARGEISA — Somaliland marked its 21st Independence Day today amidst unprecedented tight security measures for fear of further clashes over the recent military tribunal ruling that sentenced 17 civilians to death.

“May 18th is the day we pledged our loyalty to Somaliland statehood. A day when we held aloft the torch of freedom and hands in which we agreed to the formation of a nation. A day a period of ill fortune came to an end and healing began,” President Ahmed Silanyo said during his message to the people in Freedom Park.

“I want to say to the living braves who fought and put their lives in danger for others, the ones who gave all their belongings for the struggle and the ones who gave their knowledge and strength — your sacrifices have produced fruits,” he said.

Aiming to motivate the general masses at today’s gathering the President continued saying: “The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, still infant plant with no ribbed fruits to pick however the turning-point is past. We will get there together, be patient, do not lose hope and do not let difficult times cloud your judgements. The State is yours.”

Thousands of people gathered in the Freedom Park to witness the President deliver his message dispute the deployment of several hundred policemen in the capital.

During his national address the President hailed the security forces and offered his condolences to families of those who were recently killed in a major land dispute in eastern Hargeisa. The dispute which centers a former factory and surrounding community farms left more than seven dead including three security officers and a pregnant mother.

Reports in eastern Hargeisa and the north said residents in those areas did not mark the day in protest over the martial court ruling.

The president said Somaliland will mark the independence day over the next two days which the government declared public holiday.

This is the first time in the history of Somaliland the whole city did not celebrate the day in which it commemorates its declaration of independence from Somalia.


May 18, 2012