Somaliland: Speech of Somaliland President Dhahir Rayale Kahin
As many of you are aware, this is my first visit to South Africa, and as you can see, I have decided with my ministers, that Cape Town will be our first city of focus in South Africa.
As far away as South Africa may seem to be from Somaliland and the Horn of Africa, I assure you that South Africa is Somaliland’s closest friend on this continent. The Western Cape province should be congratulated for taking the lead in developing South African-Somaliland people-to-people relations, under the leadership of Premier Ebrahim Rasool.
I am extremely pleased to be with you at a time when South Africa is completing its 10 years of democracy, stability and reflecting on its up-coming challenges. This is also a time, when the people of Somaliland join you, as you reflect on 50 years of the Freedom Charter, which was launched by Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress.
Not only do we have in South Africa, the ANC, Africa’s oldest liberation movement and arguably the best, I am also honoured and humbled to be in the presence today of South Africa’s oldest surviving Muslim organisation, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).
We in Somaliland plan to hold this year a seminar on lessons from Islam in South Africa and the Freedom Charter. This seminar will be co-hosted by the Somaliland Academy for Peace and Development and the University of South Africa.
I am informed by Iqbal Jhazbhay, our advisor on Somaliland-South Africa relations, that your late Minister Abdullah Omar, reflected this self-effacing, modest character. I understand that President Thabo Mbeki highlighted his spectacular and admirable dimension of the late Minister’s character at his funeral last year.
My delegation, myself included, were proud and humbled, as we visited the various areas of Cape Town, including Khayelitsha, to be associated fully with Africa. As you say in your local language, Africa ke-nako, Africa’s time has come this century, for its full renewal and for it to free itself from the clutches of colonialism and all forms of bondage.
In this respect, Somaliland was honored and humbled by the historic opportunity it had, when a renowned Somalilander, Ambassador AR Abby Farah, led the distinguished UN fact-finding team to South Africa in 1989, which met with South African leaders, such as the late ANC giant, Walter Sisulu.
Our Ambassador Farah, also chaired the historic UN Centre against Apartheid from 1969 to 1972. Later, Somaliland diplomats, as well as the late President Egal, worked with the new chair of the UN Centre against apartheid, Mr. ES Reddy, for over two centuries, in promoting international sanctions against South Africa and support for its liberation movements.
Allow me here to express the deep appreciation of the people of Somaliland for South Africa’s hospitality extended to the late Somaliland President Muhammad Ibrahim Egal, who passed away while undergoing treatment at Pretoria’s Military 1 hospital in May 2002. The late President Egal belonged to a generation of African leaders at the time of independence from colonialism, and was a contemporary of Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Senghor and Jomo Kenyatta. President Egal was the last democratically elected Prime Minister of a united Somalia (1967). Finally, as you will have opportunities this evening to engage with my ministers of foreign affairs, information, fisheries and coastal development, I hope we will see each other again either here in Cape Town or Hargeisa to advance Nepad’s goal, to further inter-African solidarity and trade.
Somaliland has been described, I quote from the ANC journal Umrabulo, “As a Success Story, Somaliland is Africa’s Best-kept Secret”. You will get to experience, on the ground, at first hand Africa’s Best-kept Secret, how it has managed to have no foreign debt.
You will also experience, first hand, how Somaliland has relied on our women, elders, ulama, religious scholars, and internal resources to build the country from ashes. How South African companies such as Mvelephanda Holdings have attained our oil concessions, how your well placed mineral companies such as Plat Min are beginning gem stone mining and how South Africa’s telecommunications sector have installed satellite technology, which gives us broadband, 24-hour internet access at times faster than some homes in Cape Town or Pretoria.
Somalia, became independent one week after Somaliland and the two independent Somali ‘States’ united to form the Somali Republic, with Somaliland being the ‘mother’ country and the more senior of the two partners.
Nevertheless, the Act of Union, which should have formalised the unification of the two Sovereign Somali states, was never ratified by the Parliaments of the two countries, which makes the 31-year-old union between Somaliland and Somalia only an informal partnership.
Regretfully, like in many partnerships, the initially hopeful union of the two young countries ended in disaster and culminated in a brutal ten-year civil war between Somalia and Somaliland. We all remember the union between Senegal and Gambia, which lasted only six months, and that of Egypt and Syria, which lasted three years. The union between Somaliland and Somalia lasted 31 years but culminated in a brutal ten-year civil war between the two countries before they separated.
During the years of civil war, and while the world did nothing to stop it, the military regime of the Somali dictator Siyad Barre perpetrated war crimes and acts of genocide against the people of Somaliland. Government airplanes indiscriminately bombed our major cities while tanks and other heavy military artillery pounded civilian dwellings without pity, flattening schools, hospitals, mosques, and 90% of the capital city.
In February 1991, one month after Somaliland’s victory, and the fleeing of the troops of Siyad Barre from Somaliland territory, traditional elders met in Berbera.
They unanimously agreed not to seek revenge among themselves nor have malice for any persons from Somalia still living in Somaliland. Consequently, ten thousand Somalia troops that became stranded in Somaliland were fed and sheltered for three months until a safe corridor was secured for their safe return to Somalia.
In December, 2002, Somaliland held their first Local Government elections, followed in April 2003 by the first Presidential elections.
The first Parliamentary elections is expected in March this year, and a year later that of the Upper House of Elders (Senate), all this in order to complete with the long and difficult transition from a traditional, clan-based political system to a stable multi-party democracy in Somaliland.
"Regretfully, even though Somaliland is a country that can be considered a miracle and a rare African success story, the former Organization of African Unity, as well as the present African Union, have spent more time and effort over Africa’s failures and conflicts instead of giving credit to Africa’s achievements similar to that of Somaliland today," notes Dr. Edna Adan Ismail, minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Somaliland.
"Undermining the achievements of Somaliland, sadly also undermines the goals of NEPAD that are to promote peace, stability, and good governance in Africa. Independence and sovereignty for Somaliland is a reality with no turning back of the clock. What remains is for the international community to come to terms with that reality and to arrive at the only possible and just conclusion: recognition of Somaliland as a rightful member of the world community of nations," he adds.
Ismail, says that failing to do that would be a great discredit
to human rights and to democracy itself. It would further destroy the hard-won
stability that Somaliland enjoys today, and would result in another mass exodus
from the Horn of Africa. "The people of Somaliland have made a clear choice.
Will the international community respect the choice of the people of Somaliland
?" he concludes.
Source: Business in Africa