We hope the event can act as a springboard for a shift in international focus away fromSomaliaas a source of woe for the world and towards solutions that seek to offer lasting benefit and stability to Somalis themselves. Such solutions can only work in the long term by utilising local indigenous political and social institutions.
Somalilandoffers many lessons in this regard. Since declaring independence fromSomaliain 1991 it has, through grassroots negotiation, defused fraught local rivalries to build a genuine democracy through a series of elections. In 2010, its presidential vote saw a peaceful and orderly transition of power, a rarity inAfrica, in an election declared free and fair by international observers.
We thus urge participants in the conference to take note of the examples offered by practices in Somaliland in crafting a path forward forSomalia. WhileSomalilandcannot provide a transferrable model for peace, experience there demonstrates the importance of external support for locally-led processes.
External military intervention has not served to promote Somali stability or development in the past, and cannot be expected to provide any more than interim stability in the future. There is, for example, a real danger right now that extremism which has plagued the south of Somalia could be displaced to Somaliland and neighbouring areas, and any decisions taken need to pay due attention to this risk.
We welcome the UK Prime Minister’s recognition that solutions toUKsecurity concerns for the Somali areas must be built on local development. We urge his government and all those present at the conference to take this commitment seriously. Indigenously-based solutions require long-term engagement with localised groups, and demand willingness from international actors to engage with all groups who are able to demonstrate legitimacy at a community level, regardless of whether they claim religious or clan affiliation or both.
Cecilia Milesi, chair of Somaliland Focus (UK) said: “Somaliland’s quest for recognition is well-known. Less well-known are its efforts to build a state and democracy from the bottom up, with the recent launching of a national development plan showing how far Somaliland has travelled.
We urge all participants in this week’s conference to learn from Somaliland’s example. Creative ways must be found to give Somaliland assistance to keep following its path.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
(Somaliland Focus (UK) was established in Londonin 2005 by a group of individuals with an interest in Somaliland. Founding members included a number who had worked as international election observers at the parliamentary elections in September 2005, as well as members of the Somaliland diaspora in the UK, and others with an interest in the territory. In June 2010, Somaliland Focus (UK) participated in the international election observation mission to Somaliland’s second-ever presidential elections. Read about us at www.somalilandfocus.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @SomalilandFocus.)
For further comment, or to request an interview, please contact:
Cecilia Milesi at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr Michael Walls at email@example.com.