Somaliland has been fighting for its independence for three decades. Its newly elected president, Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, is in London to strengthen economic ties and lobby for support to have his country recognized as a sovereign nation.
Somaliland president Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo launched a new economic cooperation center here in London, the Anglo-Somaliland Chamber of Commerce. The president is in Britain looking for economic as well as political support.
"We would like recognition for our country of course, but we would also want to see the international community and Britain our friends engage with us to mobilize development to give us development, recognition and cooperating with us in many areas," said the president.
He says the June elections that brought him to power were widely regarded as free and fair, and the peaceful transition of leadership marked another step in Somaliland's development.
"We have made tremendous progress, Somaliland has been operating on its own, Somaliland has been relatively peaceful in a region which is not stable enough, known for instability activities of al-Shabab and other extremist groups," he said. "Somaliland has been fighting against these people and Somaliland has been working on stability, not only that but on its democracy and development of its people."
Silanyo says his government has worked hard to crack down on piracy and Islamic militancy, and is concerned about the instability of Somalia.
"We would like to see peace restored to Somalia itself because lack of stability in the region is bound to affect us, it's affecting the whole world, it's affecting our region more than anyone else," he said.
Somaliland Pushes for International Recognition
Somaliland's new president says international recognition of Somaliland would help with stability, its banks and other institutions would be able to interact freely with the rest of the world.
"Not being recognized by the international community is a huge setback, naturally that goes without saying and that's why we are moving around and asking the international community and sending an appeal to them to recognize Somaliland," he said.
Silanyo says Kosovo's recent recognition as an independent country and the January referendum on independence for Southern Sudan are both positive developments for Somaliland.
"We are heartened by Kosovo and what's happened to Southern Sudan that means it opens the door for us. The principle that countries should remain as they were at the time of independence has changed so why should it not work for us as well," Silanyo said
The United States says it will "engage" with Silanyo's government. Britain, Denmark and Sweden are all increasing their bi-lateral ties with Somaliland. The president said Ethiopia is also deepening its relationship with Somaliland, and, he hopes a new railway will link the two countries.