Somaliland celebrates independence amid lobbying for international recognition

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By Dinah Matengo – 21 hours ago0509

FILE – Women march in a procession to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Somaliland’s proclaimed independence in the capital, Hargeisa, May 18, 2016. /AP

Somaliland is celebrating 28 years since it declared independence from Somalia.

This even as it lobbies neighbouring East African states to push for its recognition by the international community.

Using quiet diplomacy to lobby neighbours , a delegation from the Ugandan parliament on Thursday listened to Somaliland Members of Parliament make their case on the same

Somaliland MP, Abdurahman Atan explained his country’s struggle for international recognition.

“There’s a legitimate case for Somaliland to be recognized, a legitimate case to look at what has been done, legitimate case about the yearnings of Somaliland people to be free and independent,” he said. “They have a right to do so and a right to be part of the international community.”

Outside, the streets of Hargeisa were receiving a face lift ahead of Saturday, when thousands of people will gather at independence square to celebrate the anniversary of the independence declaration.

Somaliland now issues its own passport, has its own currency and a flag. It has managed to remain peaceful despite an on-going civil war in Somalia; Somaliland has held regular elections since 2003.

The African Union and the United Nations have, however, refused to recognize the breakaway nation, tying its fate to Somalia’s final say.

Atan says the unions fear that, by granting Somaliland independence, other African regions will also seek the same.

‘They are talking about Pandora’s Box; if for example they recognise Somaliland, they think other African regions will also ask for independence. But that’s not true; Somaliland has been an independent country before they joined Somalia.’

Although it has diplomatic representation in several countries, lack of international recognition means it cannot access aid or loans from multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

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