Somaliland: Reflections on the SSE Conference in Stockholm 8-9th April 2016


SSE Annual conference 2016 guest speakers

Somalilandsun – I attended the SSE 2016 annual conference, which was jointly organised by Somaliland Society in Europe (SSE) and the umbrella of Somaliland Community Organisations in Sweden (SLRF).

I wish to share my reflections with fellow Somalilanders. The conference, whose theme was ‘Celebrating Somaliland’s Silver Jubilee and Calibrating its Future Trajectory’, was the 12th SSE conference and the second to be held in Sweden.

I was really excited to be in the presence of such a great event and enjoyed meeting with so many people from the diaspora and from the home front. What interested me most was the sense of solidarity amongst Somaliland diaspora and their commitment to Somaliland’s cause.

The conference continued for two days. We met the first day at the pleasant facilities of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. The conference began with a word of welcome by Amir Adan, Swedish MP, Ann-Margarethe Livh, Deputy Mayor, Stockholm City Council, Roda Hassan, Somaliland Mission in Sweden, Mikael Torstensson, Honorary Special envoy to the EU and Zakarie Hassan Waes, Chair of Somaliland Umbrella Community Organisations in Sweden, SLRF.

The chair of Somaliland Society in Europe Abdourahamman Yassin declared the conference open, spoke in detail about the purpose of the conference and shared the history background of the SSE network. After these short addresses, the Chair of UCID Party Faisal Ali Warabe briefed the conference on two issues: The first issue that he discussed briefly was the current issues facing Somaliland whether it is political, economical or social. The second main point that he shared with the conference participants was the creation of the Somaliland Recognition Commission. The chair mentioned the vital role of this commission and the need to work more effectively to re-engage with the international community on the issue of recognition. With his short introductory he concluded that SSE can play an important role to work very closely with the Somaliland recognition commission.

SSE 016This was followed by a keynote speech by Ahmed I. Samatar, James Walles, Professor of International Studies and Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship. Prof. Samatar addressed the conference the issue of implications of lack of international recognition for the democratisation process in Somaliland and for the wider security in the region. In his speech, he highlighted why the people of Somaliland want international recognition. He also gave an overview of the evidence and what they have done to earn world’s attention. Finally, he briefly talked about how Sweden may be able to support the people of Somaliland with their quest for both internal construction of their society and international relations.

The second keynote speaker was Gerard Prunier, Professor of History and expert in Horn of Africa. Professor Prunier delivered a speech on European, North American and the Arab world policies towards the diplomatic recognition of Somaliland’s statehood. In his speech, he highlighted that Somaliland faced a situation where they need to take new initiatives. He mentioned that Somaliland initiatives are polite and sometimes silent. Because of the new current climate the professor shared with the audience that Somaliland need a new strategy. The new strategy of Somaliland has to be proactive rather than to be reactive. He emphasised upon the need for aggressive policy and an active initiative towards Somaliland recognition.

The sessions after the key note speakers were from the following guest speakers: Dr. Ahmed Askar, Director of Hargeisa Hospital, Mussie Aphrem, Political Scientist, Jama Musse Jama, Red sea Culture Foundation, Eid Ali Salan, Consultant, former chair of SSE and Robert iWren, Journalist and Writer. Respectively, their presentations covered: The shared responsibility in Health care development, Diaspora Development and democracy (The impact of Diaspora in the horn of Africa, Leadership style in Somaliland (Building a platform for leadership formation in Art and Culture), Good Governance and Economic viability are the key pillars for Somaliland recognition, Somaliland, pays en quarantine.

SSE 2016The day was concluded with awards. Ibrahim Hashi and Zakarie Waes were presented with the SSE certificate of awards in appreciation for their contribution to SSE and ongoing commitment and dedication to the Somaliland cause. Somaliland eSure (SL), which is an umbrella for Somaliland organisations in Finland and the umbrella of Somaliland organisations in Sweden (SLFR) were also presented with SSE certificates of awards for their contribution to SSE and co-hosting 2014 conference in Helsinki and 2016 conference in Stockholm. It was a very inclusive and diverse conference, the organisation was amazing and the key note speeches informative.

During the second day of the conference held at Kista Torg, Stockholm, SSE member organisations presented their yearly activities, challenges and performance during 2014/2015. The opportunity offered SSE member organisations a unique platform to interact and share information to find ways they can benefit from each other, strengthen partnership and networking. The presenters from SSE member organisation were from the following organisations: Somaliland Seure (Finland), SSUK (Somaliland Society in UK), Somaliland Mental Health Programme (UK), Somaliland Association in France, Somaliland Society in the Netherland, Somaliland Welfare Org (Norway), Umbrella of Somaliland organisation in Sweden (SLFR) EAD (UK), Kayd (UK), Somaliland Community in Denmark, NOMAD, Somaliland Community in Italy, Somaliland writers Association (Sweden), Somaliland National Library and Somaliland Community Sheffield (UK)

The annual accounts and financial report of the SSE was presented by the executive team. The first part the meeting was concluded with the election of a new executive committee for the next two years. The new committee members are:

Abdourahman Yassin (Chair) France

Abdillahi Heef (Denmark)

Ayan Mohamoud Ashour (UK)

Roda A. Ali (UK)

Mustafa Ismail (Sweden)

Ahmed Aden (Holland).

During the afternoon of the second day, there was an open debate on various issues facing Somaliland, but the most hotly debated point was the status of 18th May vs 26th June. It was a point that Prof. Samater raised during his speech at Kist public meeting. It was a very sensitive issue and though people were divided on this issue, they amicably shared their views. The day was more about learning from each other. My take on this matter is that I strongly believe in keeping the 18th May as a national day. It is the day Somaliland reclaimed its independence that it had gained from the British colony on 26 June 1960. It is also the day when the politicians, elders, community leaders and the representatives of all the communities from all the regions of Somaliland came together and decided to withdraw from the voluntary union with Somalia.

It was not all about conference but the event included an opportunity to visit the city council through a guided private tour. The group toured through the halls, such as the blue and the Golden Hall where the Nobel festivities takes place. It was a great opportunity to see the city hall, historical and private background and the magnificent architecture.

When I look back over the years and the long journey the SSE network has traveled since 2001 I really feel a sense of achievement that the Somaliland diaspora organisations in Europe have succeeded to maintain this network for 15 years. It is indeed inspiring and encouraging sign to see the commitment of members organisations. This conference was absolutely fantastic and what has impressed me is the number of people who attended and their diversity. SSE member organisations from eight EU countries, guest speakers from Somaliland and North America, other professionals, Swedish politicians, Somaliland Mission in Sweden, Chair of UCID party and representatives of Kulmiye and Wadani Party were all in presence.

Abdi Abdullahi Jibril (Awliyo)

SSE member