Somaliland combines traditional institutions with western ones; the Upper House, which deals largely with discussing and resolving inter-clan disputes, includes a role for the elders appointed by the various clans, while the Lower House, which features MP’s representing various regions. The three recognized parties share a common development project, which aims to take advantage of the geopolitical situation of the region, located between the sea and the Ethiopian plateau.
Which are the factors that have characterized relations between the two ‘Somalias’ from 1991 to the present?
Relations with the south have been rather complex, even if the real issues is Somaliland’s political independence. After Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006, the cities of Somaliland received many refugees, trying to avoid getting involved in the confusing politics and perennial conflict of the southern regions.
What position does Somaliland play in the regional context?
Relations with Ethiopia are very tight, even if not so transparent. There is collaboration over the repression of radical Islam and for trade relations, even if these follow more informal than formal approaches. Moreover, it is always the Ethiopian government that mediates with the government of nearby Puntland for control of the border area of Las Anod, the sole element of potential destabilization for the region. Moreover, over the past years accords for the management and security of the borders have been signed with Djibouti – a potential competitor for maritime traffic.
What role does the entrepreneurial network play?
Traders are the spinal chord of Somaliland’s political and economic stability. Hargeisa is essentially a knot within a network that connects the courses of the Somali diaspora and international asylum to the trade networks that, after Arab countries, are now starting to reach the Far East.
How do you see the country’s future?
At the current state, with a government of transition only able to control a few areas of Mogadishu, and armed militias in all regions of the Centre-South, to sustain the few stable realities of the country is an imperative dictated by logic even before political strategy. The international community, not to mention the countries of the region, must realize that Somaliland’s stability is in everyone’s interest and that the collapse of the institutions governing the country from Mogadishu to Hargeisa, can only have dramatic effects throughout the Horn of Africa.