In 1991, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia. Since then, the Republic of Somaliland, as it calls itself, has received no international recognition. Iqbal Jhazbhay is a Horn of Africa expert at the University of South Africa. He tells English to Africa reporter James Butty the issue of Somaliland was discussed by AU foreign ministers prior to the just concluded AU summit in Banjul, the Gambia. From South Africa, Professor Jhazbhay explains to reporter James Butty how the discussions came about and why.
“Three African states contributed to the debate and discussion by stating that the Somaliland peace and stability has to be acknowledged and recognized, and that the African Union has to find a way to reward and consolidate its stability and its emerging democracy. The likelihood of this being raised is due to the fact that the three African states in question – Kenya, Rwanda, and Zambia – have engaged with the president of Somaliland recently inviting him to their respective states.”
Professor Jhazbhay agrees that technically Somaliland is still a part of Somalia. But he says by the AU sending a separate team to Somaliland implies that it is a reality, which the AU has to come to terms with and engage.
“In the 2005 fact-finding report on Somaliland, it was mentioned that Somaliland’s history is unique in Africa and that a way has to be found to deal with it.”
Yet the question of whether the AU should grant autonomous status to any region on the continent with a “unique” culture remains controversial. Professor Jhazbhay explains why the case of Somaliland is unique.
“The African Union’s fact-finding report on Somaliland says its political history is unique in the sense that Somaliland went back to its British colonial boundaries, and this in a way ties in with the African Union’s constitutive act that states should abide by the colonial boundaries.”
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