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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
President Egal of Somaliland dies
Mohamed Egal
Egal's self-declared republic has not been internationally recognised
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By the BBC's Rachel Harvey

The president of the self declared republic of Somaliland, Mohamed Egal, has died in South Africa.

Officials say Mr Egal, who had been undergoing treatment for a number of ailments - ranging from rheumatism and hypertension to diabetes and cancer - died from what are described as complications following surgery.

We have not received what we really wanted most, and that was recognition of Somaliland.

Mohamed Egal
He was elected as president of the break away republic in 1993, but neither his position nor the independent status of Somaliland have ever been internationally recognised.

Reports said Mohamed Ibrahim Egal had been undergoing treatment at a hospital in the South African city of Pretoria for the past 10 days, but he had not been responding to treatment.

He died early on Friday morning, aged around 80 - although no-one seems to know his precise date of birth.

National anthem

Mohamed Egal was elected leader of the self-declared republic by a council of elders drawn from the region's main clans.

But despite having its own army, police force, flag and national anthem, Somaliland has never been recognised by an international community fearful of further instability in the Horn of Africa.

In an interview with the BBC three years ago, Mr Egal said he was disappointed that Somaliland's development as an independent state had not been acknowledged, and he rejected any suggestion of reunification with Somalia.

"They are split into 20 parts you know (referring to Somalia), each one ruled by a warlord who knows nothing but killing and mayhem.

"Our people are prepared to talk to Somalia - we are prepared to help them find their way - to try to give them the benefits of the lessons we've learned here.

"We have not received what we really wanted most, and that was recognition of Somaliland"

Old rivalries

Mohamed Egal had just had his term of office extended for another year in a final bid to secure the international recognition he craved.

But he did not live to see his dream realised.

The fear is that after a decade of relative stability, the death of Mohamed Egal might prompt old rivalries to re-emerge.

After a period of mourning in Somaliland, observers say they expect a fiercely contested political battle for the presidency.

See also:

31 May 01 | Africa
Somaliland votes on independence
05 Feb 01 | Africa
Somaliland 'here to stay'
04 Sep 00 | Africa
Somali MP arrested in Somaliland
29 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia's new civilian leader
11 Aug 01 | From Our Own Correspondent
Somaliland's endangered animals
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