Somaliland found a friend in the Houses of Parliament not very long ago. This friend, Lord Avebury, was a hardworking and kind member of the House of Lords. His contributions to Somaliland’s development of human rights, the rule of law and democracy in the Horn of Africa have played a major role in shaping the future of this young nation.
The people of Somaliland are sending their heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Lord Avebury. A great friend has departed from the people of Somaliland and their diaspora. Lord Avebury has opened the doors of politics for the country through campaigning for its recognition. Every journey starts with one step, and Lord Avebury walked with us toward achieving Somaliland’s goals of democracy and nation building.
The first meeting with the government of Somaliland was held at his office, with the former Foreign Minister of Somaliland, Her Excellency Dr. Edna Adan Ismail and the former Minister of Commerce and Industry, His Excellency Eng. Mohamed Hashi Elmi. The outcome of this meeting was to enable the government’s former president, His Excellency Dahir Rayale Kahin, to give a speech at the House of Parliament and to introduce Somaliland’s case to the honourable members of the House of Commons. This was a great triumph for the country’s people who now feel that they have a voice in the House of Parliament and that the world is now listening. The diaspora was excited to be welcomed to the House of Parliament, along with being able to witness this great occasion.
To keep the momentum going, Lord Avebury helped the Somaliland diaspora campaign through the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Somaliland, to help the country improve its humanitarian needs. A fact finding mission of the parliamentarians was sent to Somaliland to assess what was required. Following that, Somaliland took a bold initiative to strengthen the rule of law and democracy in the Horn of Africa. They held their first parliamentary elections in 2005 which created a sense of excitement in the country’s diaspora and communities. For the first time in the history of Africa, Somaliland created their own democracy within the nation by combining traditional pastoral democracy with liberal democratic values. As a result of this Somaliland was nicknamed Africa’s best kept secret.
Somaliland’s youth and home grown democracy are always under constant threat from external factors, such as extremism and influence from radical groups, funded by foreign powers determined to destabilise this region. As a result of this the youth feel vulnerable and some people have started to migrate to seek better opportunities. Strengthening Somaliland’s democracy in the Horn is a key factor to combat these external forces.
Lord Avebury supported the Somaliland government and diaspora to help lobby for the recognition of the country and to join the Commonwealth nations. He has helped community health projects including the Somaliland Hargeisa Hospital Group, led by Mr Mohamed Hussein Abby and also the Edna Adan Maternity Hospital founded by the former Foreign Minister of Somaliland, Her Excellency Dr Edna Adan Ismail.
Somaliland’s democracy went from strength to strength when a historical election took place in 2010. For the first time a candidate from the opposition party won the presidential election electing His Excellency Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo. The election was free and fair as witnessed by the international observers. Lord Avebury called this election a triumph for Somaliland.
The next stage was to empower Somaliland’s economic development. Lord Avebury played a vital role in reaching this target. He worked tirelessly with friends of the nation in the All Party Parliamentary Group for Somaliland (APPG). In 2010, Somaliland’s development corporation was launched in the House of Parliament to help create investment opportunities.
Lord Avebury had a special connection with young people and he inspired young British citizens, with Somaliland origins, by educating them about the importance of the parliament’s work in human rights and health. In these areas he linked the connection between education, history and politics.
Lord Avebury’s door was always open to the Somaliland Community, and he always took time out of his busy schedule to support its cause for human rights, recognition, democracy and nation building. We would like to thank Lord Avebury for what he has done for the people of Somaliland, and extend our gratitude to his loving family. A great man has departed from the people of Somaliland, and we will miss him dearly.
Mrs Lulu Farah Todd
UK Somaliland Diaspora
Somaliland Recognition Action Group(SIRAG)