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Tuesday, 26 June, 2001, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Somaliland: A nation in its own right?
The people of Somaliland have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new constitution that declares the independence of their state.

The self-declared republic has used the results of this referendum to reinforce calls for the rest of the world to recognise it as a fully-fledged independent country.

President Mohamed Ibrahim Egal has said that Somaliland is no longer just a collection of clans but a nation in its own right.

Is it now time for international recognition of Somaliland? Or should this relatively peaceful part of the Horn of Africa re-unite with the rest of the Somalia?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

As a southern Somali, I don't see why the northern part of Somalia can't be a nation, so long as it is the wish of the northern Somalians and not from Igal and the like.
Mohammed Hassan, Somali/USA

The majority of the northern people do not want the mention of division of the motherland

Ahmed Awil, India
Independence for one region of Somalia is not acceptable to either the other peoples living in the north or the world as a whole. I am from that part of the north which was previously called Somaliland during the colonial days. Since the departure of the British, we are independent and cannot claim to be so again. We only need good leaders and nothing else. The majority of the northern people do not want the mention of division of the motherland. Division serves the purpose of the warlords.
Ahmed Awil, India

The answer to this question is yes because we voted in our referendum with 97% for yes as International Observers themselves acknowledge. And Somaliland has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new constitution that declares the independence of our state. Then our question to the United Nations and the rest of world - Is it fair to hold back a nation who made their choice yes for Somaliland?
Yussuf Ali, Somaliland/London

No, No and No - because all Somalis have only one dream which is a great and strong, democratic, united Somalia.
A. Dahir, Sweden/ Somalia

I strongly support the recognition of Somaliland Republic, and that is the wish of the people, because the people overwhelmingly voted for independence.
Fu'ad Ahmed Nuh, Pisa, Italy

Somaliland saved itself from the anarchy of Somalia

Henrik Jensen, Denmark
If we don't respect basic human rights for freedom of choice as in the case of the Somaliland referendum outcome, then the alternative will be long civil war without end. It's very hard to ignore that Somaliland saved itself from the anarchy of Somalia, and without help from the international community made peace, government, and a better system of conflict resolution based on their own culture.
Henrik Jensen, Denmark

Nobody knows Somali problems better than Somalis. On 31st May 2001 Somaliland people spoke loud and clear to show the world that their destiny should be full recognition and nothing else. Therefore the will of the Somaliland must be respected democratically.
Ahmed Juqdhowr, Canada

It is unfortunate to call "Somaliland" the 110-mile distance between Hargeisa and Berbera. There are over more than 15 clans in the other parts of northern Somalia who oppose the ideas of Egal and his one clan. He is neither a leader nor a ruler in any part resided in by the other communities. The referendum took place in his areas. The steps recently taken by him, including the so-called referendum, are meant to appease his clan members who are hell-bent to remove him from office in February, 2002. We should not fool the world by asserting that a 110-mile distance represents the whole of the northern regions. What is going on in the North-North West is not believed anywhere else. We are true northerners and that is the fact. Grave human rights abuses were committed in the north since 1991. And so will be the case even if each of the 15 clans in the north are allowed to have their way.
M A Hassan (Barre), India

I am not sure whether Somaliland deserves to be recognised as a separate state or not

Ahmed Jama-Mohamed, United Kingdom
I am not sure whether Somaliland deserves to be recognised as a separate state or not. What I do know is that people's wishes should not be overridden by abstract and empty values of `territorial integrity' and `national sovereignty' especially when the supposed country did not exist in reality for over a decade.
Ahmed Jama-Mohamed, United Kingdom

It is absurd that some people doubt the results of the last referendum where everyone voted for what he thought good for the future of this country and the people. International observers were in every region/district and the people of Somaliland made their intentions clear to an extraordinary percentage, 97% Yes for Independence. I believe we should be supported and respected as to what we see best for our children's children. Hence the simple answer is a big YES.
Sharmarke N. Amin, Hargeisa, Somaliland Rep.

Divided Somalia would only bring more wars and refugees

Hassan, Somalia
Nobody has ever asked why Somaliland wants independence - to run away from Somalia's or Africa's troubles in general. It's an illusion. I think that Egal being an old man - imagine the guy was in politics since 1950s - should respect Somalia's unity and stop manipulating poorly informed northerners. If you separate a substance to atomic level then it loses its usefulness. Divided Somalia would only bring more wars and refugees. Egal should learn from Germany, USA and the EU that only unity and well-used democracy bring prosperity.
Hassan, Somalia

The international community should recognise Somaliland as an independent country. It seems that the international community are concerned with their own interest, and not the welfare of Somaliland people. Somaliland people understand that 32 years of abuse, killing, and discrimination is enough. And they also understand that the price of freedom is death.
Abdirahim Mohamed Iid, USA

Do the West believe what they preach? If they do, I have a problem understanding why the West, especially the UK, refuse to recognise Somaliland which has clearly its own history. Downing street was Somaliland's governing seat for nearly 76 years.
Mahamoud Musagoni, Norway

We all remember the result of the massacres of 80's

Anwar Dubad, Burao, Somaliland
We all remember the result of the massacres of 80's, which decimated many of the civilian people of Somaliland and the tremendous influx of Somalilanders fleeing towards Ethiopia. At least 200,000 civilians died in Hargeisa, Burao, Berbera, Ergavo, Odweyne and Ainaba. Re-merging with Mogadishu would only result for the people of Somaliland in repression, suppression, and oppression. The only thing they (the people of Somalia) want to see is the death and demise of our peace-loving people. No more Mogadishu, No more suffering and No more reunion.
Anwar Dubad, Burao, Somaliland

"Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you." The problems in Somalia did trouble the people in Somaliland and the intention of the unity in 1960 for the great Somalia is already lost, so why not "recognition"?
M. Abdirahmansson, Sweden

Somaliland is a nation that believes in democracy, peace and human rights. Because of these they want to separate from their own brothers who do not recognise these moral values. People who love peace and democracy should have given Somaliland a chance to show the world that they are a nation in their own right. The world has neglected and has turned a blind eye on the people of Somaliland. It's about time the world gives these people who want to be recognised for many reasons a recognition so that they can shut off their past and move on with life.
Akram, New Zealand

If Somaliland is given recognition, then Awdal has to recognised, so does Sool, Puntland, Rahanweynland, etc. Where do you stop? Utter nonsense. Somalia as a whole is not viable, so parts of the whole are not viable either.
Ahmed Addo, USA

The United Nations are mistaken to believe that Somaliland will eventually be a part of Somalia

Houssein Ahmed, Canada
I'm a Somalilander and I know that my people have been suffering the consequences of being denied being treated as a sovereign independent nation. The lack of recognition has been depriving the people of Somaliland during the last 10 years of the opportunity to exercise their universally recognised human rights in terms of trade, travelling, learning and socio-economic development.The United Nations however are mistaken to believe that Somaliland will eventually be a part of "Somalia". The freedom being currently enjoyed in Somaliland cost its people the loss of tens of thousands of their sons and daughters and the total destruction of their towns and villages.
Houssein Ahmed, Canada

The people have spoken. Let's respect their will and support their effort to make peace and stability.
Elias, Washington, DC

South Somalia regarded Somaliland politicians as a threat because they were mostly higher educated than Southern politicians. Somaliland politicians united South Somalia without consulting the civilians. The Somaliland people became quickly discriminated against by South Somalia. They lost their rights, they seemed and were treated as second-class civilians. The constitution which defined the unity of the Somali republic was overwhelmingly rejected by the Somaliland people in 1961. The constitution of Great Somalia has never being signed by the representatives of both nations. Most of Somaliland people believed there was no legal unity. They were occupied illegally and unjustly for more than 30 years by South Somalia. So I think this referendum will help them to get their rights back.
Mohamedkayse, Finland

How can people say that just because they are Somalis they should stay together?

Adbirahim, UK
Somalia has seen sufferings of great proportion and many who have commented have no idea. How can people say that just because they are Somalis they should stay together? They cannot unite again since they have been one and it did not work. Most of those unwise comments are made by non-Somalis. I believe that the reasons that Somaliland should be accepted are that it has peace and stability above all. It has a central government and businesses are booming at the moment. And lastly it has the momentum of its people through the referendum which was fair and overseen by international observers. For those who say it may not have been so, maybe not all voting systems are 100% fair, remember the recent American election.

Somaliland has been peaceful for the last ten years and had waited for the rest to get their acts together, and if it has to wait for much longer we may not even have what we have. I would ask others to be more constructive in their opinions and to have at least some basic knowledge about the region before making their comments.
Adbirahim, UK, London

Independent Somaliland is the wish of the vast majority of the people concerned and it is unwise to try to stop that will and destiny for nationhood - that will result in further bloodshed and unrest to Somalia. Come on, let's wake up and face the reality, let's give these people what they deserve, because they can be a good example for African democracy and conflict resolution.
Abukor Essa, Britain

I don't think the younger Somali generation know what the word 'clan' means - it doesn't mean that they're not your people, it was made so Somalians could know who their family and relatives are. All Somalians have the same culture, traditions, and even the same religion. If one clan out of three major ones was allowed to separate from Somalia then the Somali people will be weaker than ever.
Ahmad Bassin, Somalia

These people deserve nothing less than their own independence

Mehari, Ethiopia
I was in Somalia since 1994 and in Hargeisa when the civil war erupted. Due to my experience witnessing all the atrocities committed by the Ziad Baree government and seeing that the world closed its eyes and ears to these innocent people and did nothing, I say that Somaliland should be recognised as an independent country. These people deserve nothing less than their own independence and to lead their own country with pride.
Mehari, Ethiopia

I strongly support an independent Somaliland. As Africans we need to start respecting the will of the people and in this case that means an independent Somaliland should be recognized since 97% voted in favour of independence. The time has come when we as Africans must be honest enough to praise the few success stories on our burdened continent. An independent Somaliland will benefit the Horn of Africa including my beloved but mismanaged country Djibouti.
Cabdi Gahayr, Djibouti

Let us see if this is truly the wish of the majority of people of North Somalia

Ahmed Guled, Canada
First of all let us call this parcel of land North Somalia instead of Somaliland which is a term that originated in British Empire. Second those who claim that this was a country before are kidding themselves. North Somalia was not a country but a colonised parcel of Somalia. Third I do believe that there is a significant portion of the people of North of Somalia who want to separate from the rest of Somalia, however, I believe that they are not the majority. We have to ask if this referendum was free and fair. We do know there were areas in the North of Somalia who refused to participate. Were there international observers to validate the claimed 93%+ yes vote? Finally let us not rush to judgement. Let us see if this is truly the wish of the majority of people of North Somalia. Let me also remind those hardcore separatists that there are areas in the so called Somaliland that do want to stay with the rest of Somalia. Will you accept their wishes as you want your wishes to be accepted. Anyway let us remember that "united we are strong whereas divided we are weak".
Ahmed Guled, Canada

Somaliland is still a part of Somalia. If we recognize them as independent, then why not Chechnya, Palestine, the Basque, Kashmir, Taiwan, and the Mexican-Americans who want the Southern part of Texas to return to Mexico. What's next, should we give independence to individual households who use referendums to declare themselves independent?
Fabrice Noucti, Cameroonian in the US

I honestly don't understand some people in the 21st century want to suppress a nation choice, which is freedom and independence. Let's pause over the people's decision and carry on no more discussion. The people have chosen and indeed the will of the people will prevail.
SMSD, London, UK

There are two very important issues here. First, people of Somaliland has every right to determine their destiny to this end they have voted for the creation of an independent state of Somaliland. Secondly, the international community has recognised Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and all the former Soviet republics as independent states. Therefore, the international community must accept the will of the long-suffering people of Somaliland. It is true that Somaliland has existed an independent state prior to hastily uniting with the south. The horror which people of Somaliland experienced in the hands of the southern dominated army and the government is well documented. In the long its the will of the people of Somaliland that matters.
Awsalawaad, London, United Kingdom

No no no. I don't think that we should give recognition of Somaliland because Somalia Unity is more important than Somaliland's imagination in the future regardless of the similarity of language, religion and culture. So we have to think twice before it's too late. I support the will of the people of Somaliland but manipulative politicians in that area who give a bad perception toward southern Somalia are the primary obstacles to reconciliation and dialogue between both peoples.
Mohamed Hussen Farah, Canada

Somaliland should definitely be recognised as an independent state. Since 1991, it has run an economy which is slowly but surely developing and it is not governed by the insane militia gangs of the south. Why on earth would anyone in the international community deny Somaliland this, and plunge it into the bloody chaos of Somalia proper? The UK, as the colonial power which ruled British Somaliland, should be the first to recognise the will of the Somaliland people, as shown in the recent referendum - which foreign observers recognised as free and fair.
Daniel Brett, UK

I am a Somali man and I'm from the former British Somali colony of Somaliland. I would like the world to know that majority of the people in that part of the country do not want to be separated from the rest of the country except the pure clan-dominated party that wants to establish a government where they could be the majority and the decision maker, to harm and abuse the rest. It is true there is peace and development in so-called Somaliland, but let us not forget that peace came through the contribution of many citizens that do not want to be independent from the rest of Somalia. If the world recognises Somaliland, that would lead to civil war and instability of that part of the country that seems to be enjoying peace. Egal mentioned that Somaliland is no longer a collection of clans; I would say he is right because Somaliland is ruled and operated by one clan.
Abdimalik Mohamed, Mpls MN,USA

The people living in Somalia don't like their country to separate

Husein Mahad, Hargeisa, Somalia
Somalia is one country and it is wrong that one tribe can call a small city a country and ask the world community to recognise a separation. I don't think that it is right; the people living in Somalia don't like their country to separate. Plus even the parliament of TNG and the President of Somalia don't want Somalia to become two nations. Tribe leader of North Somaliland, Mahamad Egal, is abusing the people of Somalia their rights and freedom because the people of Somalia are brothers and sisters. I they don't want that to happen, period. Somalia was one before the British came, so stop making Somalia again two countries.
Husein Mahad, Hargeisa, Somalia

Why not? Eritrea got recognised as independent country. It should be noted that many Eritreans were intimidated to vote yes while Somalis in Somaliland are not. It would be unfair to Somalilanders to deny.
Aulel Takas, Canadian

In my view this just adds to the fragile state of the Horn of Africa. I think the people of Somaliland should take the example of Ethiopia and Eritrea and see that separation is strictly an immediate solution that does not ultimately result in significant progress. Ethiopia and Eritrea are both still very poor and plagued by persistent famine. It seems to me that the people of Somaliland do not want to be associated with the troublesome situation of Somalia. However, I believe that if they face Somalia's problems along with the rest of the benevolent Somali people, the result will be better than that from separation.
Yonas Assefa, Ethiopia/Eritrea/U.S

Somaliland people have paid a huge price to reinstate their independence and sovereignty

Shirdon Samatar, USA
I do think that the people of Somaliland have spoken out loudly and clearly on the referendum. They do not want to be part of Somalia. Somaliland people have paid a huge price to reinstate their independence and sovereignty. Rivers of blood have flowed and heaps of dead bodies have been witnessed in the streets of Somaliland. Therefore, it is about time that the international community recognised Somaliland and made operational the expression of the people to control their destiny and not to be arrested for the warlords who lost their sense of humanity and direction. Moreover, Africans, in general, have being criticised that they do not manage their affairs; however, Somaliland has refuted that biased notion by creating an oasis of peace, prosperity, and good governance. Somaliland's deed is shining in Horn of Africa and the peace-loving people of world should open their eyes and support.
Shirdon Samatar, USA

I personally don't support separation of the country because it creates war as a result of nationalism. I favour unity rather than separation. I think they should unite and make one strong country. I think it will be better if they incorporate the two sides' resources instead of being limited. I do not mean to reject their wish for independence, but I think it is better if they work together. Whether they decided to unite with Somalia or stay separated, I wish them the best of luck. I wish them a peaceful resolution.
Emebet, Ethiopia

It is time that the international community began respecting the basic human rights of the people of Somaliland

Dr Ahmed Nur Jama, UK
Since more than 93%of the people of Somaliland have voted 'yes' in the recent referendum and since Somaliland was historically an independent and separate country from Somalia Proper with the overwhelming majority of the Somalilanders rejecting the 1961 constitution which was supposed to be the bedrock for the so-called reunion of Somalia and Somaliland and since Somalilanders have witnessed what amounts to genocide in the hands of their fellow southerners, it is time that the international community stopped its hypocrisy and began respecting the basic human rights of the people of Somaliland and therefore recognised Somaliland as an independent country which it deserves. Anything less than that, will plunge the whole region into further civil strife and more bloodshed, as any attempt towards re-unification with Somalia proper will sow the seeds of hatred and will ignite a long protracted civil war.
Dr Ahmed Nur Jama, UK

The answer to your question is an emphatic yes for many reasons - it is hard to reconcile with the perpetrators of the worst genocide Somalis experienced; also Somaliland as a British protectrate was at one time an independent country that sought a union with Somalia it ceded from; and last but not least, peace and democracy as well as business are well and thriving. It is time the free world opened its eyes.
I. Raage Jama, USA

Somaliland should get recognition for the simple reason that the people voted to be a nation of their own. If it's not recognised then the people have no hope.
Ismael, Canada

I think there is no alternative to people's own choice

Data Dea, Ethiopia
I think there is no alternative to people's own choice since they often know what is best for them comparatively. But I am generally suspicious of the so-called referendum in a developing country which take place under a heavy influence of an uncompromising and parochial elite. So it is difficult to know whether what are called referendum results are the imposed opinions of a powerful elite or real decision of the people. Anyway, I do not believe any country in Africa should continue splitting this late in human history. Somaliland is no exception unless there are real extraordinary reasons which makes this place different. This I do not know so far. Instability in other parts of ex-Somalia is not enough reason.
Data Dea, Ethiopia

No, no, and no. We want one Somalia. Undivided, under one constitution.
Fesseha, Ethiopia

As one of the American Marine soldiers who went to Somalia in 1993 to help the starving and terrorized masses, I feel that we did far too little to help those in the north(Somaliland) who had decided to help themselves. We need to help the ones who strive for democracy and the rule of international law. In my opinion we should definitely support independence for Somaliland and its hardworking people.
Greg Stevens, United States

If the international community applauds the independence of Namibia and Eritrea, then it should also be prepared to give the republic of Somaliland a chance. Why should we force a relatively prosperous and peaceful nation to merge once more with the warring clans of South Somalia at the hands of which it suffered such oppression and hardship before and during the Civil War. In my opinion it would benefit the peace and stability in the region if Somaliland is recognised as the independent nation that it de facto already is. Even more so, since it is the expressed desire of the population to be independent.
Paaskynen, Finland

We are blocking the path to democracy

Warsame Ahmed Saciid, Bristol, UK
The people of Somaliland have chose there destiny. And this should be respected worldwide resulting in a immediate recognition. I know how hard the people of Somaliland worked to get this far, so let us continue the process. Don't forget if we don't support them, then we are blocking the path to democracy.
Warsame Ahmed Saciid, Bristol, UK

Those who oppose the recognition of an independent Somaliland state should be very careful of the alternative that they are advocating which is the denial of the right to exist as a nation. Suppression is not the solution in here, the peaceful separation of the two states(Somaliland and Somalia) is, and its time the world should face the reality and recognise Somaliland as an independent state.
Abdillahi Awad Egeh, United Kingdom

I think the world should give Somalia time to form a broad based government in Mogadishu first before they consider recognizing Somaliland. The division of the country into fiefdoms does not help to foster unity instead it leads to anarchy. In my opinion Somaliland is part and parcel of Somalia, just the absence of the central government does not warrant them to declare independence by going to the polls.
Salat - Jamiatfukura, Kenya

The world seems that it doesn't understand the Somali affair as it is complex. I believe that every body knows what is best for them. The outside world should find out the causes before they judge. By the way, the referendum speaks by itself and doesn't need any comments against it and every body has the right to decide their own destiny.
Ahmed H Abdi, London UK

I don't think it should be recognized as an independent state by the outside world. I don't understand why do people want to separate a patch of land and be recognized as an independent state, while the rest of the world is working towards political, economical and social unification. I think they should find a way to stay with and be a part of United Somalia.
Johan Tesh, Canada

Recognition is the answer

Osman Farah, Canada
After more then 30yrs of abuse, torture, mass killing and humilaion, it is unfair to the Somaliland people that the international community goes againest the will of the Somaliland peaple after they have done everything a state could do, therefore recognition is the answer.
Osman Farah, Canada

Which ever way you look at them Somalia issues are very complex to deal with and this is what the rest of the world doesn't seems to understand. For instance why would the people of the North Somalia want to isolate their brothers and sisters in the south? In the neighbouring countries like Kenya and Tanzania Somalians immigrants live peacefully with their hosts and so do other Somalians in other parts of the world, why can't they do the same in one Somalia and one home. The East and West Germans came together and now live happy as one united country. Why would one want to divide his motherland? Why should the North bear the name Somaliland if at all it isn't Somalia? Put down your pride and come together for the benefit of one people, one and united Somalia.
Boniface Karumbi, Norway

The world community and peace loving Somali citizens shoud be very worried about this ugly separtisim idea, It's the work of our enemies be careful you won't like what you getting into.
Abshir, USA

See also:

04 Jun 01 | Africa
Somaliland: No way back
31 May 01 | Africa
Somaliland votes on independence
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