In a conflict-prone region, Somaliland is a rare success story. Although the international community has not recognised the independence of this self-declared republic, the territory functions with complete autonomy. Over the last 24 years, it has built a functioning democracy and relatively strong institutions of government; a particularly impressive achievement in comparison to the repeated failures of Mogadishu-based administrations. This progress, however, remains fragile. Somaliland’s continued stability is by no means guaranteed. It faces several challenges, both internal and external, which it must overcome if it is to continue its promising development – and if it is to have any chance of receiving the international recognition that is its holy grail. With presidential elections coming up, this report examines what those challenges are.
SOMALILAND OCCUPIES A strange place in the hierarchy of the international community – if, that is, it can be said to be part of the international community at all. It has all the trappings of a state – the fl ag, the national anthem, the presidency and the parliament, the armed forces and the central bank – but is not considered to be a state.
In this, its position is roughly analogous to the likes of Taiwan or Western Sahara, which operate in a similar diplomatic limbo. Officially, Somaliland is part of Somalia, and should answer to the Somali Federal Government based in Mogadishu. It has not done so since 1991, and Somalia is not strong enough to press its claim. Nor does Somalia look likely to be strong enough anytime soon.
Instead, Somaliland operates with de facto independence. By any measurement, its government, based in Hargeisa, has done a better job of governing the territory under its control than any administration in Mogadishu has achieved over the last two decades…