It’s time to Recognise Somaliland as an Independent Country and AU Member



By H.E President A M M Silanyo

The African Union is proving, exactly as far-sighted as its architects hoped, a tremendous force for good for our continent. Year by year, its authority and influence is grows as it provides an indispensable platform for Africa to come together to address our many opportunities and challenges.

As we look around our continent today, the need for the AU’s intervention – both in response to terrible emergencies [as we have seen in Nigeria] and to accelerate wider progress – has rarely been greater.

So I am genuinely reluctant, on behalf of my country, to add to an already packed agenda. But I believe the AU should no longer put off recognising Somaliland as an independent country and full member.

It is not the first time, of course, that our young country has asked the AU to take this momentous step. President Dahir Rayale Kahin, my predecessor, first applied in 2005. The result was an AU mission which looked at what our leaders and citizens had built together since we declared independence in 1991.

It found our progress was “unique” in African political history and recommended that the AU “should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case”. Eight years later, Somaliland is still waiting. As we celebrate our 23rd anniversary as an independent nation tomorrow, we find ourselves still denied recognition from our own continent.

This matters to Somaliland – and to Africa. Our country has much to celebrate tomorrow. From the ruins of a bitter conflict, we have forged a nation which is an oasis of peace, stability and democracy in a troubled region.

Power is transferred peacefully through democratic elections. State institutions including the police and armed forces are in place. Terrorists find no safe haven within our territory. Nor do pirates operate off our coast.

Given the terrible damage which years of conflict caused, we remain a poor country. But free education has been introduced for boys and girls. Our economy is slowly being rebuilt. We have a great deal in which to take pride.

But the lack of formal recognition from our fellow African countries and the world community remains a serious brake on progress and our hopes of improving the lives of our citizens. It makes it much more difficult for us to access the international aid or loans to drive development. We are denied a seat at the table when the future of the Horn of Africa is being discussed.
I understand, of course, the reasons for caution.

But after 23 years as a functioning independent country, the time has come to recognise the reality on the ground. Our citizens have left no doubt about where they see their future when they voted overwhelmingly for our continued independence in a national referendum in 2001 which was judged by outside observers as fair and free.

It is also important to remember that the AU mission to Somaliland specifically accepted that granting membership would not open “a Pandora’s Box” which other territories would follow. One of the principles of the AU’s foundation was respect for borders at the time of independence. Somaliland’s request for recognition does not contradict this doctrine.

Perhaps even more importantly, we believe our case for recognition is even stronger now than in 2006. The intervening years has shown that our country is built on very sound foundations. Relations between us and Somalia – with which we had a disastrous union for three decades – have also improved. We have agreed an ambitious agenda of co-operation to work together to tackle terrorism, extremism, piracy, illegal fishing, toxic dumping and other serious crimes.

Such co-operation is important not only for our two countries but also for the wider region and world. The Horn of Africa remains a source of tension and conflict. But Somaliland cannot play its full role in helping spread peace and stability unless we are treated as full partners by the international community.

The AU was born out of the hopes of new countries who believed together they could help each other grow and prosper.

Over the last 23 years, Somaliland has shown what can be achieved with courage and hard work. We are now asking for the chance to be accepted as full members of the African community so we can build on the solid foundations we have put in place and help drive progress across the continent.

Mr Silanyo is the President of Somaliland.



  1. But our own words demand for DIRECT CONFRONTATION and confessing our leaders. we will sooner be recognized iINSHALLAH but we should build our interior affairs stronger and have capabilities as power nation like sovereign TAIWAN shows examples to EAST AFRICA COUNTRIES and all continent of AFRICA .

  2. Excellent piece by the Prez but alas it will be ignored. Somaliland utterly and miserably failed to create an Africa-focused strategic campaign to build relationships and influence at grassroots level african politics. The whole’campaign for recognition’ if one can dignify it with the title, has been utter shambles. We do not even have oen working website, manned Twitter Account or Facebook. It is criminal neglect

  3. Simple action points for the Silanyo govt if they are really serious about recognition.
    1. Create a dedicated ‘campaign’ Unit within the Somaliland FO. It is must be manned by competent, young, idealy Diaspora born cadres of about ten people. No need for more
    2. Create an effective, high quality website initially in English and French but later with other languages like Arabic and Swahili. It must be manned 24/7. Ditto for Twitter and Facebook Accounts.
    3. Produce a quality CD in few languages and one glossy brochure about Somaliland’s cause as well as business and investment opportunities. Thios could be used as ‘handout’ in meetings and venues or sent out to sympathisers
    4. Identify and target ten African countries and in each 50 influential people in the media, politics, economics etc. Hold launch parties, get togethers, discussion forums and eventually ‘Friends of Somaliland’ societies in each of these countries.
    5. In the West, identify key individuals and institutions and explain our cause to them appealing to their sesne of justice, democratic values etc. These could specific mass circulation newspapers, TV stations or individual columnists.
    6. Make use of our young women particularly the disapora born ones. people tend to listen more to a beautiful, intellgent young female than a fat, sweaty, bearded old men with accents like broken dentists’ drill. It is the latter that run what passes for campaign now.
    Cost of all this? About 1 million dollars a year. Which i know is a lot. I will send my $100 now if the government starts it.

    • Great suggestions! I hope someone is listening. Your last point especially. I have been saying it in the comments for a while. If we can shell out upwards of 100 dollars for cellphones and cable we can take the same measures for Somalilands recognition. Even if it means working over time one night of the week to pay for it. It will be worth it.

  4. Somaliland Must be recognized and I will start petition right here in North America for the Landers in Canada and the US all over the 50 states and 10 provinces and 3 territorties I will plead my fellow to sign this petition so that Somaliland’s case will be faster because Canada and The US are the most powerful countries in the world and the petition has to go through parliament, congress, and the senate so that Somaliland can get the recognition it deserves.

  5. Okay wait a minute Somali’s are Somali and Somalia’s the country in which Somali people live in. Making a new “Country” like this will help no one just unite already. Making things all complicated and all.

  6. It will all depend on us pals. Nobody gives nobody nothing. Let us first elect the right leadership to office, we’ve have them plenty in Somaliland and then all work to strengthen democracy in our country and no country in the world will ignore us. The world respects the strong and efficient nation, and it’s not about charity really. Good morning Somaliland.

  7. Where is the king of Somaliland now guys? Did he say anything about his beloved Country, Somaliland on this Great occasion? I haven’t heard non so far really, if he said anything to the international media, please let me know!
    Many thanks.

  8. Somaliland has come a long way but we still have a long way before calling ourselves a truly secular democracy worthy of recognition. So far we are a baby still trapped in conservative Islamic nonsense with a ministry of religion and vice committee. We have a long way to go indeed but that doesnt mean we have to give up. We need to slowly move the population into modernity.

    No one is going to recognize us if we are only mildly different from every other conservative bat shyt crazy muslim nations. We need to be more like the countries in the world that people from all over are tripping over themselves to get to. Canada, United States and Western Europe. What makes these countries successful and how can we replicate it? That is the questions we should be asking ourselves not establishing vice committees and having a ministry for religion, what exactly are they doing with that money that they cant do in a mosque without have tax payers pay for it?



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