Somaliland is situated in Somalia’s northwest. It declared unilateral independence from the rest of the Somali state in 1991 and has since been campaigning for international recognition. Somaliland’s functional administration is limited principally to the Western part of the former British protectorate as the Eastern part has been a disputed area between Puntland and Somaliland regional states for a good time. It is also worth to mention that a third group under the name of HBM-SSC (Hoggaanka Badbaadada iyo Mideynta SSC) that is campaigning from a unionist platform and whose goal is the creation of their own regional adminstration (Sool, Sanaag & Cayn) in their own land to counterbalance what they see as a domination of their homeland by alien clans- Somaliland and Puntland- has further mudded up the already murky politics of the region. See the size of the disputed area.
Somaliland minus the SSC (Sool, Sanaag and Cayn region) regions stands no chance of international recognition. The legal authorisation of secession rests with the future Somali government but in the interim period logic teaches us that a divided region can’t see the light of the day. The politicians in Somaliland, all three parties, made their agenda to make the common Somalilander believe that if this election goes well then the international community who are waiting in the wings will grant international recognition to Somaliland which will enable the administration to tab into the multilateral and bilateral funds. The common man is waiting recognition that will mean quick fixes of public infrastructures, schools, health and the economy in general soon after the election is concluded. Such empty and nonexistent promises will have devastating effect on the trust of the people in the long run. Please watch this debate on the question of international recognition with regard to Somaliland Inside Story - Somaliland VS Somalia
Somaliland Elections: - changing shape like a fluid in a plastic
The Kulmiye election campaign in Somaliland is lead by the Diaspora who returned to the region in huge numbers with sacks full of dollars to buy the votes of the poor. There is nothing wrong to campaign intensively to further the interests of one’s party but it should be done in a way that that is not deceptive and respects the electoral laws. Reports coming from the region are blaming the tactics employed by Kulmiye supporters to have a created a general feeling that they have a hidden scheme of putting a Habar Jeclo clansman in the presidential office irrespective of his political manifesto – wrong or right it is our time is said to be the going motto of Kulmiye foot soldiers.
The members of the Diaspora were trucking people from the Somali regional state of Ethiopia to vote in Somaliland elections while at same time denying voting rights to over 70,000 Somalis (from the south) who were legal residents of Hargeisa since the start of the civil war - twenty years back. To put it in another way; the Hargeisa administration’s denial of voting rights or a form of representation to the taxpaying Somalis in Hargeisa while allowing the Ethiopian Isaq clansmen people to vote is just out of character.
Reports from reliable sources confirmed that the voting returns from Garadag and Ceel Afweyne districts were put on hold by Somaliland election commission later this afternoon after they found out that Kulmiya party stuffed the ballot boxes with 10, 000 and 17,000 fraudulent voting papers respectively and the same source confirmed that some districts in Buroa is under investigation after allegations of voting irregularities were brought to the attention of the commission. It is also widely circulated today that UCID party lodged a complaint against alleged fraud in Gabiley region perpetuated by Kulmiye with the election commission.
It is common knowledge that the referendum on secession orchestrated by Hargeisa administration held in May 2001 in Somaliland was only confined to the western part of the old British Protectorate and this current presidential election is again confined to the same part which means its outcome has no significance what so ever on the Eastern part of Somaliland (SSC lands). The people who live in the SSC regions are following the progress of the election in no different way to that of Puntland, central regions, Mogadishu and kismayo people who has nothing to do with the secessionist agenda of Hargeisa administration.
Conclusion: - Ethiopian positive intervention might save the day
Somaliland and Puntland are both Ethiopian client adminstrations which are accountable to Addis on all major policy decisions. Ethiopian interest will not be served by opening yet another front in the north when Al–Shabab vanguards are knocking at the doors of both regional states. The message from Al Shabab leader to Somaliland people on the eve of the polling day, the killing and arrest of Al-Shabab suspected members in Burao and Hargeisa, the assassination of Lasanood election commission officers and intelligence chief, the daily skirmishes in Las Anod between Somaliland Militia and HBM fighters is a prime signal that a change of policy is overdue.
Ethiopia who is designated by the west to oversee Somalia by containing the Islamists within the borders of Somalia will most probably inform Puntland and Somaliland to steer clear from HBM’s endeavour to establish their own regional state which will eventually be another addition to the Ethiopian controlled regions.
Somaliland and Puntland to different scales are banking on Ethiopia to fight their dirty war against the HBM, by falsely labelling them as terrorists, but Ethiopia will not side one tribe against the other as that will compromise their overall security interests in the region especially at a time Ethiopia, for the first time in its history, is in the process of disarming through negotiation its local Somali insurgents. Ethiopia is at this juncture working hard to wrap up the two decade old ONLF lead war inside Ethiopia and so far is in course to achieve peace with itself so it is foolhardy to expect Ethiopia to sacrifice its regional interest for enclaves (Somailand/Puntland) that are already in its pocket.
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