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Monday, 6 May, 2002, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Somaliland leader buried
Mohamed Egal
A seven-day period of mourning has been declared
The body of Somaliland's President, Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, has been buried in the port town of Berbera in front of a large crowd.

His three sons laid him to rest next to his father in accordance with his last wishes.

Mr Egal, 80, died in South Africa on Friday while undergoing surgery at a military hospital.

The self-declared republic of Somaliland broke away from the rest of Somalia in 1991.

Mr Egal was elected president in 1993 but the break-away republic was never recognised by the international community.

Holy words

Around 4,000 people attended the funeral, an eye-witness told the BBC's Hassan Barise in the Somali capital, Mogadishu by telephone.

The governments of Ethiopia and Djibouti were represented, said businessman Abdullahi Aden Hirsi.

The Ethiopian delegation was led by the deputy minister of foreign affairs.

Our correspondent says that Ethiopia is trying to divide Somalia and supports Somaliland's independence, while Djibouti is pushing for Somali unity.

Mr Egal's long time opponents, Suleman Gal and Ahmed Silanyo, were also there.

The vice-president of Somaliland, Dahir Riyale Kahin, was inaugurated as the new leader on Friday.

Although seven days of national mourning have been declared, our correspondent says that flags are not flying at half-mast because the emblem includes holy Islamic words.

Power-struggle

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.

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

Somaliland managed to avoid the descent into anarchy seen in the rest of Somalia but our correspondent says that Mr Egal's death raises fears of a power-struggle and possible instability.

Mr Kahin comes from the Gudabirsi clan, whereas Mr Egal was a member of Somaliland's dominant Issak clan.

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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