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Somaliland Celebrates 26 Years Since Reasserting Statehood

PRESS RELEASE: Somaliland Celebrates 26 Years Since Reasserting Statehood; Signs London Declaration on the Future of Somaliland

London, 9 May 2017 – On Thursday 18 May this year, Somalilanders in the UK will celebrate 26 years of statehood. May 18 marks the date that Somalilanders decided to dissolve their failed union with Somalia, reclaim their independence and affirm their right to self-determination after the human rights abuses committed against them by Siyad Barre’s brutal regime. Over the past 26 years since leaving the union with Somalia, Somalilanders have built a peaceful, stable and democratic independent state, including a multi-party political system, a constitution, legislature and judiciary.

This year, the Somaliland Mission to the UK will mark 18 May with an International Conference on Somaliland, where key friends and allies of Somaliland will come together to reflect on Somaliland’s achievements and discuss pragmatic, actionable ideas to address present issues and pave the way toward recognition. Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr Sa’ad Ali Shire will open the conference, and speakers will include representatives of Somaliland’s three political parties, parliamentarians from across Europe, academics, and prominent civil society figures. The conference is expected to culminate in a London Declaration on the Future of Somaliland.

The London Declaration will lay out a roadmap for international recognition and guide the government’s actions on its most pressing future challenges, drawing from the day’s discussions. The UK-based Somaliland diaspora community will also be making their voices heard at a rally on Whitehall on the afternoon of 18 May. Somaliland exists on the boundaries of the former protectorate of British Somaliland, which was granted independence in 1960 by the UK. The two countries have maintained close links, including through a significant diaspora community. Community representatives will also be handing in a petition to 10 Downing Street that encourages the UK government to again recognise Somaliland as an independent state.

Somaliland Representative to the UK, Ayan Mahamoud, said:

“On a day that Somalilanders mark the progress that our country has made over the past 26 years, it is appropriate that we also look to the challenges that lie ahead. We believe that Somaliland already deserves international recognition and fulfils all the necessary criteria for statehood. The International Conference on Somaliland demonstrates our desire to work with friends and allies to address Somaliland’s most pressing challenges. Through the creation of a London Declaration on the Future of Somaliland, we will lay out a plan for achieving the recognition that we deserve from the international community. I am proud that so many members of the Somaliland community in the UK are attending the rally in Westminster this year. The rally shows that Somalilanders’ desire for international recognition remains strong, 26 years after our reassertion of independence.”

Somaliland is an independent state of 3.5 million people that exists on the boundaries of the former British Somaliland Protectorate that became independent in 1960. Shortly after its internationally recognised independence, Somaliland joined under legally dubious circumstances with former Italian Somalia to create the Somali Republic. Under Siyad Barre’s military dictatorship, Somaliland was subjected to heavy bombing, causing many people to flee and destroying its major cities, including its capital of Hargeisa. Shortly after Barre’s ouster, the people of Somaliland dissolved their union with Somalia on 18 May 1991, reasserting their sovereign independence. Somalilanders have themselves built a peaceful, stable and democratic de facto independent state, with its own government, judiciary, bicameral legislature and armed forces. Somaliland holds regular elections, which international monitors have pronounced as free and fair, and has witnessed multiple peaceful transfers of power.

Since 1991, Somaliland has asked the international community to accept its independence and recognise its peoples’ decision to end the voluntary union with Somalia. Somaliland continues to satisfy the customary international legal criteria for statehood set out in the Montevideo Convention – a permanent population, defined territory, a government and the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Somaliland has representative offices in 16 countries, and has signed memoranda of understanding with other states, principally on trade. 


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