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Somaliland’s Application For AU Membership
Mr. Mazimhaka and members of his delegation met with ordinary Somalilanders, government officials, parliamentarians, leaders of the opposition political parties, representatives of the civil society groups including women organizations and clan elders.
The mission reported back on what it saw and heard during the course of its visit. The report clearly indicated how Somaliland was qualified enough to be treated as a sovereign and full-fledging state in par with other countries in the continent or the world for that matter.
Recognizing that Somaliland’s demand for recognition was “historically unique and self-justified in African history”, the mission’s report argued against linking Somaliland’s case “to the notion of opening a Pandora’s box” for applications from secessionist-minded groups that might exist elsewhere in Africa.
Most importantly the mission strongly recommended that the AU should find special ways for dealing with Somaliland and be disposed to judge its case “from an objective historical viewpoint and a moral angle vis-à-vis the aspirations of its people” to be recognized as a sovereign independent state.
However it is very unfortunate that the AU hasn’t acted until now on the recommendations of the mission. It is not yet clear whether some AU member states such as Egypt that consider Somaliland’s independence as a potential obstacle to their aspirations for regional domination, had conspired to suppress the report or there were some other reasons. It is difficult for Somalilanders to know since as a non-member they cannot access information from AU officials. But the AU must be reminded that it’s policy of ducking its responsibilities toward the people of Somaliland will have grave consequences for peace and stability in the entire region as well as the world.
As mentioned in the report of the AU’s fact-finding mission, the lack of an early resolution of the dispute between Somaliland and Somalia over the former’s withdrawal from the 1960 union and subsequent proclamation of independence in 1991, will constitute a potential source of conflict between these two countries in the future.
What the AU and the European Union are in fact doing now is to bolster the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia making it stand on its feet whatever the cost. Though the realization of peace in Somalia is in the interest of Somaliland and the countries in the region and beyond, however the crucial question is whether the pursuit of such an objective should necessarily create another situation of conflict.
Encouraged by the flow of EU aid and the pledges of armaments it has already received from a number of Arab countries as well as IGAD’s commitment to send in “peacekeeping” troops, the TFG has already taken practical steps for the creation of a large army of its own from selective clan militia groups.
To avert the emergence of a catastrophic conflict between Somaliland and Somalia, the AU should better start contemplating the implications that ignoring Somaliland’s demand for admission into the AU will have for peace in the region. It should be understood that Somaliland came into existence not as a consequence of Somalia’s disintegration in 1991. In fact it was the Somaliland people’s struggle for freedom from Somalia that eventually caused the collapse of the whole Somali state.
Despite enjoying a continues flow of military hardware and an annual economic aid that surpassed the country’s GNP in many folds, Siyad Barre, Somalia’s former ruler, failed to prevail over the insurgency waged through out the 1980s by the fighters of the Somali National Movement. At the time the SNM relied mainly on the support of one major clan.
Today the cause of independence enjoys even far greater support and allegiance from the local population than there existed during the SNM’s liberation struggle, whose 25 th anniversary was observed in the country earlier this month. This means that 15 years since proclaiming independence and embarking on a path of nation-building, including the institution of a system of governance mixing local egalitarian culture with universal modes of government, Somaliland is in a much more favorable position to successfully resist any external pressures of military political or economic nature that might be intended to force it into a union with Somalia again. The AU is confronted with a challenge that it can not choose to ignore. Denying recognition for Somaliland will complicate and deepen rather than resolve Somalia’s crisis and the vise-versa is true.
The AU’s involvement in current efforts for nation building in the former Italian Somalia offers a unique opportunity for the Au to start seriously considering Somaliland’s eligibility for membership in the continental organization.
Source: Somaliland Times