02 July 2010

President loses election in Somaliland

Congratulations to the new President and to the people of Somaliland.

In elections described as free and fair by international observers, Somaliland replaced its President with the opposition candidate.

This is a great achievement for the pseudo-state. Less than 10% of African leaders since independence have left office through the ballot box.

Will this bolster claims for international recognition?

Nick Eubank, author of a couple of papers on Somaliland’s political development argues that
recognition–or more specifically the subsequent eligibility for foreign assistance which would almost certainly follow–has significant potential to upset Somaliland's success.
in the absence of foreign aid, Somaliland's government was forced to negotiate with a wide array of actors in order to develop a sufficient tax base, and it was as a result of these negotiations that the country developed highly representative institutions
You can probably guess what my solution would be. Don’t give aid to the Government of Somaliland. Give it to the people.

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Update: A friend has sent me an article by Rageh Omaar, a British journalist born in Mogadishu whose family are from Somaliland.

"For Somalilanders, formal recognition by the rest of the world is the holy grail, a national obsession that defines part of what it means to be a Somalilander and that cuts across all party lines."

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