Global Policy Forum

Somaliland Seeks Recognition,

Garowe Online
January 28, 2007

The self-declared Republic of Somaliland has sent a formal request to the African Union asking to be recognized as an independent African government, according to diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa. Somaliland officials in the Ethiopian capital reportedly delivered the message to the AU. The 8th AU Summit is scheduled to open in Addis Ababa Monday, with Somalia and the conflict-ridden Sudanese region of Darfur high on the summit agenda.

Somaliland, a region in northwest Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991, as the Horn of Africa country disintegrated and erupted in civil war. No nation in the international community has recognized Somaliland's independence, but several countries keep unofficial diplomatic presence in the region's capital Hargeisa.

African support?

Dr. Charles Murigande, Rwanda's foreign minister, reportedly surprised African diplomats and angered Somali delegates in Addis Ababa when he openly called for Somaliland's recognition by AU member states. Dr. Murigande said the Somaliland government has a right to be recognized internationally, since the government returned law and order to the region and can self-manage.

The comments warranted a response from Abdullahi Yusuf, president of Somalia's internationally recognized transitional federal government. While commending Somaliland for securing the peace, President Yusuf called on the breakaway region's leadership to open talks with his government and reach consensus. Yusuf said his government would not interfere in Somaliland affairs until southern Somalia was pacified.

Earlier this month, thousands of protestors in Hargeisa expressed their support for independence by taking to city streets and opposing Yusuf's Mogadishu-based government. President Yusuf does not enjoy a particularly popular history in Somaliland. As leader of the Puntland autonomy, he deployed his troops in late 2002 to Sool region, giving effective control of the disputed region to Puntland. Somaliland claims legal right over Sool and Sanaag regions under colonial-era boundaries, while Puntland maintains legitimacy on blood ties between inhabitants.

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