Somaliland: Reflections of an International Election Observer


IEO Jacket 2012By Dustin R. Turin

Somalilandsun – In May 1991, Somaliland emerged as a self-declared independent state in the aftermath of the failure and subsequent collapse of Siyad Barre’s Somalia. Although ethnically and linguistically Somalilanders are undifferentiated from their counterparts in southern Somalia, the northwestern region of Somalia has achieved an important distinction:

while Somalia remains fundamentally anarchic, with no substantial national government to speak of, Somaliland is conversely peaceful, democratic, and remarkably safe by comparison. The de facto state held successful national elections in 2003 (presidential), 2005 (parliamentary), and again in 2010 (presidential). International Election Observers (IEOs), along with Domestic Observers (DOs), participated in monitoring each of these processes, concluding that elections were substantially free and fair. Nevertheless, Somaliland remains internationally unrecognized and is considered under international law to be a province of non-functioning Somalia.

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