Somaliland:A Different Kind of Independence Day



By Edan Adan Ismail

In the quest for independence, there are good days and there are bad days. May 18th is a good day. On May 18th, our Independence Day, the people of Somaliland will be filled with hope and renewed determination. Our Independence Day serves as a token of all that we’ve achieved thus far on the road to sovereignty, and as an aching reminder of our aspiration for recognition of our independence — an aspiration that remains unfulfilled.

Let’s begin with a brief history.

In 1960, Somaliland gained its independence from Great Britain and was recognized as a sovereign state by 35 nations, including all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. Five days later, the government of Somaliland chose to unite with Somalia to create a “Greater Somalia.” But this union proved to be catastrophic. The central government in Mogadishu brutally repressed the people of Somaliland, killing 50,000 of its citizens, displacing another 500,000, bombing its cities and laying over 1 million land mines on its territory.

In 1991, the people of Somaliland revoked the Act of Union and declared the independent Republic of Somaliland based on the borders of the former British Protectorate of Somaliland.

Since that time, Somaliland has developed into a dynamic and stable democracy. A formal constitution was approved in 2001 by 97.7 percent of the population in a national referendum assessed by international observers as free and fair. Our constitution guarantees the separation of powers and the protection of active political opposition, a free and diverse media, and fundamental human rights and civil liberties. Nationwide local and parliamentary elections are held regularly. Presidential elections took place in 2003 and 2012, and resulted in a peaceful transfer of power.

From the vantage point of the United States, Somaliland has been on the right side of all the important issues. Our government stands steadfastly with America in the fight against terror and we readily share security information, we strictly enforce the UN arms embargo against Somalia, and Somaliland has eradicated piracy in its coastal waters through aggressive law enforcement. Internally, we have disbanded clan militias and incorporated them into our official police and military structures.

In the ever troubled Horn of Africa, Somaliland stands out. We are the exception. We are democratic, we are stable, we are peaceful, and we are a place in which a woman can raise to the top levels of civil society and government, like I did.

Yet to this day, and to my continued astonishment, our sovereignty remains unrecognized by the international community. By the silent consent of leaders around the globe, we are forced to exist within the precarious confines of Somalia.

As I write this, I realize that some may say we haven’t the independence to account for an Independence Day. But I say that we already have all the makings of independence, and the evidence is right here in Somaliland for the world to see. If only the world would look our way.

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  1. Thank you Edna for your well thought piece about Somaliland’s quest for diplomatic recognition.Indeed, you are Somaliland’s lifetime Ambassador to the world.

    Of course, Somaliland people deserve a chance to decide their own political future.But that future depends on how the Somaliland’s political leaders, clergy and clan elders manage our own affairs.

    It will be a good idea to hold another referendum for Somaliland next year. Again, to show the world that Somaliland people are deciding their own political destiny democratically. The same way, Britain is holding a referendum for Scotland to secede from United Kingdom this summer.


  2. Inshallah this year will be the year that Somaliland finds itself on the maps of the world again as bright as the light that continue to emanate from the near stars and as a continuing beacon of democracy and success in the horn. Thank you God for all your favors and thank you Dr. Adna for all your hard work and determination

  3. The black Gold in Somaliland.

    In early history traders from Egypt (Pharoas ) were in Somaliland. In 15th century Jewish, Indian and Arab merchants mostly from Yemen, Syria and Oman were in Somaliland as traders.

    In 16th century a war broke out between the Muslim Somaliland tribes leader Ahmed Gury and Christian Abassinian kingdom (Ethoipia) which lasted many years and caused many casualties.

    In 19th century Somaliland tribe leaders signed an agreement with the Ottoman Empire in the redsea port of Berbera in Somaliland, inorder to get a strong milatry aid in case of a war with Ethiopia.

    After the collapse of Ottoman Empire the Somaliland tribe leaders again signed an agreement with the British Empire in 1884 in the same sea pot of Berbera. The ( leader agreement ) was not signed on the Somaliland soil but on a British Navy Ship. The content of the agreement was not to colonize but to protect. That was were the name of the country came from ( British Somaliland protectrate ). And from 1884 untill independence day on 26 june 1960 the country remained as a British Somaliland Protectrate.

    The ex British Somaliland Protectrate now known as the ( Somaliland Republic ) is full of natural resources like petrolium, gas, uranium, lime, aqua marine and many other natural minerals.

    Explorations that were taken by british geologists in early 1930s has shown positive signs of potential oil and gas resources in off shore along the red sea coast as well as in shore around Guban, Nugal, Hawd and Zaila regions of the Republic.

    Before Somaliland Independence on 26 june 1960 the british goverment and companies were not in hurry to drill oil and gas from Somaliland because the arabian golf states were the major oil and gas suppliers, so there was no rush…

    Somaliland Republic gained it´s independence from Britain on 26 june 1960 and became the 8th independent country in the whole African continent. 34 countries around the world conguratulated the newly born republic.

    Seven days later on 1st july 1960 South Somalia known as (Italian Somali Colony ) obtained their independence from Italy. On that same day (1st july 1960) the ex British Somaliland Protectrate decided freely to unite with the ex Italian Somali Colony without any written agreements. The union were never ratified.

    For Somalilanders the union with the ex Italian Somali Colony and the hope of a Great Somalia turned into an unforgetable Nightmare, after the southrens over took the power and occupied every key major goverment positions.

    Poverty, oppression, corruption, triblisum, nepotisum, missmanagement, unjustice, killing, arresting, missplaced millions of Somalilanders, asylum seekers around the world, bombing cities and villiges, genoside, hundred thousands of mass graves, lost of wealth, and distruction of everything were the result of the useless union with the south.

    It took 31 years of deadly war with 70.000 Somalilander victums to declare indenpendence again and withdrow from the union with the south in 18 may 1991.

    Since 18 may 1991 up to now Somalilanders enjoy unlimited freedom in a peacefull fully functioning democracy with multi party system based on one man one vote.

    Though Somaliland is not yet fully recognized by the rest of the world, many countries have diplomalic offices and treat Somaliland as a Republic.

    For the last 23 years Somaliland has it´s own Flag, Currency, President , House of Parlament, House of Elders, Ministries, currency, Milatry, Police, Marine, Multi party system based on democratic principles with three local and presidential elections, Peacefull power transfere to the new President. ( A wonderfull miracle in burning region).

    The Somaliland goverment resently signed an oil drilling agreements with some westren major oil companies in order to improve the economy which is the most improtant problems that face the country.

    Revenue from oil and gas export increase goverment budget and devolopment projects will take place but unsecured oil and gas pipe lines can turn into a disaster for somaliland nomads who live in that area. The result will be a contiminated water and grass, and that must be handled wisely.

    Somaliland goverment, companies, consultant Engineers and all necessary institutions must word together and efficiently. That is the only way in which everyone will benefit from the natural resources.

    Written by Big Joe

    Munich, Germany.

    12. Mai 2014.


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