There will be extremely high consequences if Somaliland is not recognized as a sovereign state, said Ali Hussein, Head of Mission for Somaliland’s permanent diplomatic mission.
“If we don’t get recognition, our hands will be tied behind our backs because we won’t be able to share intelligence information with other states. If you focus on our region, there is a problem with Al-Shabaab in Somalia and other radical organizations. Somaliland is holding back those radicals from infiltrating our territory, so if we don’t get recognized the consequences will be extremely high,” Hussein told Capital.
With a population of 3.5 million, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after a bloody civil war and the fall of the then head of state Mohamed Siad Barre. Although no sovereign state has recognized Somaliland as an independent nation, the region has been an interest for foreign companies from the UK and UAE that are in the sector of oil and gas exploration. Somaliland has had conducted five elections in the last 15 years and has had a successful transfer of power on multiple occasions.
Speaking on the responsibilities of the AU, Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Dr. Saad Ali Shire said that Somaliland’s case needs to be recognized and dealt with as soon as possible.
“We in fact submitted an application to join the African Union back in 2006 and the AU also sent a mission to Somaliland and when the mission came back and reported back to the AU and it was established that Somaliland is a special case that the AU should deal with in a special way. We would like the AU to deal with the issue of Somaliland and Somalia because we are both African countries and we all have a responsibility for bringing this saga to a conclusion,” the minister said.
He further underlined that the AU cannot continue to ignore what is going on. “Somaliland is a reality in the Horn of Africa. Somaliland has achieved a defector recognition internationally, we deal with states, international organizations, international companies; the only link that is missing the sovereignty issue. We have friends within Africa, those who understand that fact and we would like countries to support the cause because it is in the best interest of the African continent. A peaceful prosperous Somaliland is in the best interest of the region; Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, the Horn of Africa in general. We hope we will be able to show everyone that this is a case that they have a stake in,” he said.
Talks between Somaliland and Somalia to resolve the issue are expected to resume once Somalia carries out its general election. If an agreement of a peaceful solution in which Somaliland is recognized as a sovereign state is not possible, violence might occur. “We have seen the terror of that already and we don’t want that to happen again. It will not help anyone,” the minister said.
Somaliland is a poor but growing country; according to a survey done in 2012 by the World Bank Somaliland’s GDP was 1.4 billion USD. The livestock industry accounts for 30 percent of the economy as the backbone, followed by trade at 20 percent, crop production at 8 percent and real estate at 6 percent.