The self-declared Republic of Somaliland has in recent years been lauded for its stability, largely avoiding the violence of Somalia. The UK Government has described Somaliland as a “beacon” for democracy.
However, the International Crisis Group think tank says Somaliland’s “hard-earned stability is at risk”.
Postponement of Presidential election
During 2022, political tensions emerged between the Government and opposition parties over the sequencing of the presidential elections (scheduled for November 2022) and the election to decide which political associations would become the three official political parties. Somaliland has a constitutional limit on the number of political parties, designed to promote inter-clan dialogue.
Following the postponement of the presidential election, Somaliland’s Parliament extended President Muse Bihi Abdi’s term of office by two years. The main opposition parties have refused to recognise the extension. The UK Government has urged Somaliland’s political actors to “agree on an electoral roadmap.”
Fighting in eastern Somaliland
Separately, the UN estimates over 80 people have reportedly died in clashes between Somaliland forces and local militias in Las Anod (also known as Laascaanood) in early 2023. Accounts differ as to who is involved in the fighting. The UK Government has condemned the violence and urged all sides to adhere to a ceasefire and allow unhindered humanitarian access.
A former British Protectorate, British Somaliland briefly declared independence in 1960 before uniting with Somalia. The outbreak of civil war and the collapse of President Siad Barre’s regime prompted Somaliland to declare independence in May 1991. Somaliland is self-governing, with an independent government and regular democratic elections. The capital is Hargeisa.
Somaliland is not recognised as an independent state by Somalia or any other country. However, it has been lauded for its political stability and democratic handovers of power. A UK Government Minister said “in recent years, Somaliland has made great strides towards an inclusive democratic process, and that forms the bedrock of its stability.”