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Somaliland celebrates 30 years of independence on Tuesday 18 May

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Thursday May 20, 2021 - 18:37:03 in Maqaallo
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    Somaliland celebrates 30 years of independence on Tuesday 18 May

    Somaliland celebrates 30 years of independence on Tuesday 18 May

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Somaliland celebrates 30 years of independence on Tuesday 18 May
The 30 th anniversary of Somaliland falls on Tuesday 18 May 2021. It is a day people from all
over Somaliland celebrate their independence. Previously big events used to held in the
towns and cities of Somaliland, but due to this year’s pandemic issues I think, we celebrate
differently this year. I am currently living abroad and I share my feelings and happiness with
the people of Somaliland. I also share my optimistic feeling towards Somaliland and what it
has achieved during the last 30 years.
Although Somaliland has not yet been able to gain full recognition, it is important to note
that it has achieved a lot in terms of development and nation building. Considering the long
journey it has gone through you realize that what this country has achieved cannot be
summarized in a short article. Of course, there are challenges but the people of Somaliland
appreciate the progress made in the areas of peace, stability, freedom, rebuilding the
country and development which are all things to be proud of.
The celebration of the 30 th anniversary of Somaliland is a long journey that Somaliland has
been through at various stages. On this occasion, I look back at the struggle to regain
Somaliland’s sovereignty. I will highlight challenges and difficulties Somaliland went
through during that period. I discuss in this article how the people of Somaliland have
worked together to reconcile the Somaliland communities and build an inclusive
government. I will also discuss the development and reconstruction of the country as well as
the manner in which Somaliland conducted the elections that led to the formation of
various governments from different political parties and what they have achieved since
1991.
But first, I will highlight the history of Somaliland and the reasons why the British Empire
was interested in Somaliland as well as the struggle of Somaliland people to free their
country from colonialism.
From 1884 Somaliland was under British protectorate administration. The British
Government was attracted to the strategic location of Somaliland. With the construction of
Suez Canal the importance of the strategic location of Somaliland was increased. To
understand the significance of the 30 th anniversary of Somaliland’s independence, it is
important to note that the people of Somaliland never forget their struggle for
independence from the United Kingdom. During Somaliland’s existence under the British
protectorate there were struggles and movements for independence. There were many
people who fought for freedom, but it is worth to mention the struggle of Sayid Mohamed
Abdulla Hassan who led the Darawish fighters based in Taleh (Sool region of Somaliland). In
addition to the history of the Sayid Mohamed and his Darwish struggle there were also


other liberation movements. The first movement was announced in Burao in 1945, under
the name of SNS. It was not based on politics and the main purpose of the movement was
to raise awareness about the problems of tribalism and how to build a healthy and cohesive
society.
In 1951, a SNL (Somali National League) organization was founded in Buroa. SNL was a
popular political organization where their main objective was to achieve full independence
from the United Kingdom. Other pro-independence groups in Somaliland included the USP,
NUF and Hisbullah. Although these groups had different strengths and struggles, they
shared their common goal of gaining independence from the United Kingdom.
The British Government granted Somaliland statehood on June 26 in 1960, making the
country the first free Somali nation to join the United Nations. It is noteworthy to mention
that the statehood of Somaliland has been recognized by around 35 countries.
Unfortunately, five days later Somaliland united on 1 July 1960 with the Italian Somalia to
form the Somali Republic. It was a union that happened with emotions without any serious
negotiations. It can be said that the union was illegal because there was no formal
agreement between the two parties (act of union).
It was the biggest mistake ever in the history of Somaliland when they quickly and recklessly
united with Somalia without considering the future of the people of Somaliland and what
was in their best interest when it comes to future generations.
The younger generation today may not fully understand what prompted Somaliland to unite
with Somalia. Both politicians and the people of Somaliland have been pushing to unite all
ethnic Somalis in the horn of Africa comprising British Somaliland, Italian Somaliland, French
Somaliland (now Djibouti), The Somali region in Ethiopia (now kilalka shanaad), and the NFD
(the Nothern Frontier District) which is now under Kenyan Government administration.
I think, it is important to ask ourselves what Somaliland people have gained from the union
with Italian Somaliland. I do not expect that our politicians can give us enough answers
about this, but there are many answers towards losses and sufferings when our politicians
went to Mogadishu to make the union happen.
According to Somaliland historians, the people of Somaliland suffered greatly under
successive governments of Somalia. The rights of the Somaliland have not been considered
at all. The first union government was taken over by politicians from Somalia. This created
the first outrage and resentment among the people of Somaliland origin. The injustice and
oppression by Somalian politicians against people from Somaliland led to a failed coup in
1961 attempted by a group of junior officers from Somaliland. The purpose of the coup was
to restore the independence of Somaliland.
The greatest oppression and suffering for the people of Somaliland came when the dictator
of Somalia came to power in 1969. Siad Barre and his government began to cripple the

economy of Somaliland and oppress its people. Many innocent people were arrested by the
regime without going through the legal process and many others were killed without trial.
As a result of the oppression, the SNM (Somali National Movement) was formed in London
in 1983. Its military base was established in Ethiopia and it carried out attacks and military
operations against Siad Barre’s government forces between the period of 1983 and 1991.
The biggest military offensive was in the year of 1988, when the SNM captured Hargeisa,
Buroa and many other towns and villages in Somaliland. In this war Siad Barre’s forces
started firing heavy weapons, destroyed major cities in the country such as Hargeisa, Buroa,
Berbera and many other towns and villages. To kill more innocent people the dictator hired
South African pilots bombarding indiscriminately civilian areas and even targeting fleeing
families. According to African Human Watch report, nearly fifty thousand innocent people
have been killed.
The genocide experienced by the people of Somaliland under Siad Barre’s regime has led to
years of war and struggle. Thousands of Somalilanders have fled to neighboring countries,
particularly Ethiopia. Many others have fled to other foreign countries in Europe, America,
Australia, Arab world etc.
To defeat Siad Barre and his arm, SNM has invested time and resources to unite the
southern opposition movements. As Bradbury writes in his book Becoming Somaliland, SNM
began to provide moral and military support to rebel organizations in Somalia such as the
USC, SPM and SSDF, which later succeeded in ousting Siad Barre on Jaunary 27, 1991. It can
be said that SNM movement was the backbone of the struggle against the Barre Regime.
One great importance of this 30 th anniversary is the memory and prayers of those who have
suffered along this tragic journey. The beautiful Somaliland we enjoy today came at the high
price paid by those who died and those who got injured for the struggle of independence.
It is indeed very useful for the young generations of Somaliland to know that the SNM
movement led to defeat Siad Barre regime and his forces in 1991. Although not all
Somalilanders agree on this war, it is important to note that this struggle was part of
Somaliland’s history. It is also beneficial for the youth to become acquainted with the peace
making conferences that brought together the people of Somaliland to strengthen peace
and trust among the Somaliland communities. After the defeat of Siad Barre’s forces, SNM
administration convened conferences in Berbera and Burao, which aimed to shape the
future of Somaliland. Later, the Government organized other conferences in Borama,
Hargeisa and Sheikh, all of which focused on peace building, stability and development of
the Somaliland society. The Buroa and Borama Conferences were of great benefit to the
Somaliland people. Both conferences resulted in resolutions and recommendations that
have become the basis of Somaliland’s existence.

Buroa Conference
The 1991 Burao Conference marked a turning point in Somaliland’s history. The conference
brought together representatives from all communities and regions of Somaliland. After
long and intensive consultation the final outcome became the decision to reclaim the
statehood of Somaliland on 18 th May 1991. One of the other main outcomes was the
election of the first Somaliland Government with Abdirahman Ahmed Ali as president and
Hassan Issa Jama as vice president giving them a mandate to rule the country for two years.

Borama Conference
The conference began in Borama on January 24, 1993 and lasted for about four months. It
provided an opportunity for all concerned parties to reach a final agreement. It is important
to mention that the structure and funding of the conference came from the Somaliland
community. The conference and its proceedings were in the hands of the Somaliland people
with zero outside influence. It can be said that the Borama conference was one of the most
important as it resulted in decisions to strengthen the statehood of Somaliland. During the
conference, the delegates discussed all the sensitive issues in power sharing. The security
frame and the reconciliation among Somaliland communities was another important
agenda. The conference also coincided with the end of the two-year presidential term of
Abdirahman Ahmed Ali, therefore the agenda of the conference included the election of the
new president and vice president. Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal was elected as the president
and Abdirahman Aw Ali as the vice president. And a national constitutional charter was
produced.
Celebrating this 30 th anniversary of Somaliland is also worth reviewing the achievements of
past Somaliland presidents. Since Somaliland regained its sovereignty and statehood, five
presidents served the country with each leaving behind their distinct legacy.

HE Late Abdirahman Ahmed Ali (1991-1993)
Abdirahman Ahmed Ali became the first president of Somaliland. When he was elected as a
president, the country was in a difficult situation. The country did not have a disciplined
army, law and order was non-existent, all government institutions destroyed and conflicts
erupting throughout country. It was then recognized that the situation in Somaliland at that
time was not conducive to peace and development therefore it was necessary to find a
solution to the situation of that time. This led to the organization of the Borama Grand
Conference which brought together elders and intellectuals from all the regions in
Somaliland. One of the most important things we can remember about the government of

Abdirahman Ahmed Ali was that his government peacefully handed over power when
Borama conference elected Egal as the president of Somaliland.

HE Late Ibrahim Haji Ibrahim Egal
Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal became the second president of Somaliland when he was
elected at the Borama Conference in 1993, for a four year term. In 1997, the conference in
Hargeisa re-elected him for another four years. President Egal had been in charge since May
2002 when he died at a hospital in South Africa. The beginning of President Egal’s elected
government had gone through very difficult times. During early 1990’s there have been
widespread clashes among clans in the western and eastern regions of Somaliland. These
conflicts brought unnecessary setbacks to the country. Fortunately, these conflicts were
eventually resolved through reconciliations and consultations with the help and working
together from the government of Somaliland and Guurti (Traditional leaders).
The people of Somaliland remember President for his leadership in bringing stability and
peace to the country. Some of the most memorable accomplishments during his presidency
in Somaliland are:
1. Won the demobilization and disarmament of fighters and later unified them to become
the national army, such as the police and the military.
2. He initiated and established plans to build national institutions which everyone has
benefitted.
3. His other main legacy was the draft of the Somaliland constitution as well as the much
needed Somaliland currency.
4. It is also important to note that he had the idea of starting national political parties in
Somaliland and formed the UDUB party for his Government in 2001.

HE Dahir Riyaale Kaahin
Dahir Riyaale Kahin had been sworn in as the third president of Somaliland following the
death of his predecessor Mohamed Haji Ibrahim Egal in 2002. He was president of the
country from May 2002 to June 2010. Certainly the marathon that had been going on for
the last 30 years of every president had contributed differently to Somaliland and its social
and economic development. Of course every president faced challenges during their
presidency but every one of them made efforts to improve the structure of the government
and the social development of the country. During Dahir Riyale’s presidency, Somaliland
succeeded in maintaining peace and stability and he made a significant contribution to the
democratic process in Somaliland by peacefully organizing local elections, parliamentary

elections and two presidential elections. He will abe remembered for his beautiful peaceful
power transfer when he lost the 2010 presidential election.

HE Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Siiraanyo
President Silanyo is remembered in the history of Somaliland as the 4 th president of
Somaliland when he won the 2010 presidential election and had been president until 2017.
We also remember him as the longest-serving leader of the SNM. President Silanyo’s key
contributions to the nation include the following 1. Increased the country’s budget from 47
million to three hundred and fifty million dollars. 2. Construction and maintenance of
government buildings e.g. ministry headquarters and other government building 3.
Somaliland National Army are allowed to be given the ranks and other awards they are
entitled to. 4. The president made it possible for Somaliland currency to be distributed in
the eastern regions especially Togdheer and Erigavo regions. 5. Launching and starting road
construction projects, such as the one between Burao and Erigavo (Silaanyo Road), which
will be a great legacy for the people of Somaliland 6. The government’s achievements also
include holding a local election in 2012 and most recently presidential election. 7.Silaanyo’s
Government had doubled the salaries of civil servants and soldiers 8. One of the biggest
achievements of Silanyo’s government is its agreement with DP world, which is a major
investor in the country.

HE Muse Bihi Abdi
Muse Bihi Abdi, fifth president, was elected president of Somaliland in the country’s 2017
presidential one person one vote elections. He is a president who has not yet completed his
presidential term therefore it is difficult to fully describe here what he achieved during his
presidency. Here are just a few examples of some of the things he has accomplished so far:
1.Observing Somaliland’s agreements with DP World and initiating the construction of
Berbera port and Berbera corridor. 2. Continuing the construction of Silanyo road, which is a
vital route for the economic development of the people of Somaliland. 3. Maintaining the
value of the Somaliland shilling and controlled inflation. 4. Reformed the protocols of the
nation’s presidential office. 5. The president kept his promise to reduce the size of his
cabinet. 5. Developed standards and quality control measures. 6. Continued to improve
relations with neighboring countries. 7. Introduced the bespoke national youth service. 8.
Strengthened domestic revenue mobilization 9. Distribution of free educational books for
public school students. 10. Creating diplomatic relations with the foreign countries such as
Taiwan.

The achievements of the current and past presidents of Somaliland are an example of what
Somaliland has achieved despite difficulties and challenges which we wanted to share
together in this 30 th anniversary.

Conclusion:
In conclusion, the freedom we enjoy today came at a high price. Many people sacrificed
their lives for it, many others lost limbs for it. It is important that our younger generation in
Somaliland become aware of the fact that this freedom came as a result of a bitter struggle
against occupation by an oppressive regime. Although Somaliland has not yet received
official recognition, its people are aware that independence and statehood will never be
comprised again. Somaliland learned unforgettable lessons from the dubious union with
Somalia.
On this occasion of the 30 th anniversary we have to be grateful to all those who have
contributed to the reconstruction of the country and invested their time, knowledge and
resources. It is important that the people of Somaliland remember the role played by
the Somaliland Diaspora in rebuilding the country. It is gratifying to see that the markets in
Somaliland are full of people and thousands of children are going to schools to learn.
However, although Somaliland has taken great strides in the last 30 years, there are still
obstacles to its progress. I hope that the people of Somaliland are not wasting their time
looking back to the past. Now the focus of the people is to preserve
their unity and togetherness to improve the lives and conditions of the normal Somaliland
citizen.
Finally, it is certain that Somaliland’s future is bright and prosperous. All that is needed is for
the people of Somaliland to maintain their unity and work together to strengthen the trust
and cooperation among Somaliland communities.
Abdirahman Abdillahi Jibril (Awliyo)
Somaliland activist
Jabdi35@yahoo.com

Reference:
Boobe Yusuf Duale (11 Juun 2020) 60 sano ka dib xoriyadda: Sooyaalkii Xisbigii SNL ee 1960-
kii.
Dr. Hussein Mohamed Nur (2018) The Rebith of Somaliland.
Michael Walls, Steve Kibble (2010) Beyond polarity: Negotiating Hybrid State in Somaliland
Somaliland: Old challenges, new solutions, Daily Maverick, Sept 12 2019.

Human Rights Watch Wolrd Report (1989), Somalia
Gerard Prunier (21 January 2021), the country that does not exist: A histoey of Somaliland
Bradbury, Mark (2008) Becoming Somaliland, Oxford, James Currey (African Issues)
Peter Tatchell (June 2011), In praise of Somaliland-a beacon of hope in the horn of Africa.
http://www.somalilandlaw.com/state_of_somaliland_1960.html#Heading, last accessed 10
May 2021
The new humanitarian, 6 May 2002 (Somaliland leader buried)
IRIN, Newsletter, May 2006
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