Somaliland: The Paradox of Friendship, Elections, Recognition, Development Aid and the United Kingdom


Though Britain still considers Somaliland an administrative region of Somalia London dispatched a high level delegation to parley with Government ,Political leaders and Civil Society Orgs in Hargeisa, pledge election funds

The British team led by Minister Rory Stewart poses with staff after visiting the U.K. Funded Hargeisa stabilization Centre for severely malnourished children in Hargeisa

By: Yusuf M Hasan

Somalilandsun- A visiting high level Delegation from the U.K. Was in Hargeisa where it held diplomatic discussions with Somaliland government, political parties and civil Society organizations in addition to touring a number of British funded projects.
It is indisputable that Britain is one of the biggest contributor of humanitarian and development support to Somaliland.
This was mutually concurred during talks held in Hargeisa between Somaliland government officials led by Vice President Abdirahman Abdillahi Sayli and a visiting British delegation led by U.K’s minister state for Africa Rory Stewart.
Though information from in-camera meeting remain scanty, reliable sources inform that British government shall open its Taxpayers kitty worth over 1m pounds gears towards enabling the Somaliland National Elections Commission- NEC hold successfully presidential elections come 13th November 2017
The two sides also discussed and agreed to enhance relations between the two countries that share centuries old relations, Somaliland having been a British protectorate until 1960 when it was granted independence, subsequently leading to the now defunct voluntary union with Somalia, a former Italian colony to its south.
The British Somaliland protectorate was founded in 1884 and Dissolved on the 26th June 1960, five days before the fateful union with Italian Somalia.
Other issues apart from elections, touched upon, included continued British involvement in ongoing development projects in Somaliland funded by the authorities in Westminster as well as enhancement of security cooperation.

 separate meeting with the Somaliland minister of public works Ali Hassan Mohamed ‘Ali Marehan’ also took place in which the Brits were solely focused on Somaliland Development Fund-SDF projects implemented by the ministry nationwide.

The U.K. Is not only the major contributor towards democratization process, development and humanitarian projects in the country but the main driving force behind SDF a multimillion fund that provides a single vehicle through which donors can support Somaliland’s development goals. Other donors to the fund include but not limited to Norway, Netherlands and Denmark.
The SDF whose interventions are aligned to the Somaliland National Development Plan (Vision 2030) with five core ministries as implementing partners has the sole objective of ensuring improved and better resourced core state functions for the people of Somaliland.
In relation to the said contribution the Foreign and Commonwealth office-FCO reports that “The UK is now the second largest donor (behind the US) to Somaliland’s democratization process.It has invested £2.18million in a biometric voter registration process to ensure that every Somalilander has the opportunity to vote. This is due to be completed by 19 September.
A further £1million to support the joint election is yet to be addressed due to separation of the initially planned simultaneous presidential and parliamentary polls”

The British delegation led by Rory Stewart who doubles   joint minister for the Foreign Office and the Department for International Developmen included his government’s diplomatic envoy to Somalia Ambassador David Concar, FCO East Africa chief Julian Reilly, DFID East & Central Africa director Donald Brown and Phil Evans head of DFID in Somaliland and Somalia.

VP Abdirahman Sayli welcomes U.K. Minister for Africa Rory Stewart to the Somaliland presidency in Hargeisa VP Sayli who is acting Somaliland head of state, in the absence of his boss, president Silanyo currently on a private visit in the UAE was flanked by among others the ministers of Foreign Affairs, Dr Saad Ali Shire
Minister Rory Stewart also met leaders and senior officials of the two Somaliland Opposition political parties of UCID and Wadani , Eng Feisal Ali Warabe and Abdirahman Irro respectively, the duo of whom are also contesting for the presidency against Ruling Kulmiye party’s Muse Behi Abdi this November.
According to a brief statement issued By Abdirahman Irro on behalf of his colleagues, discussions with the U.K. Delegation revolved around forthcoming presidential elections in the country slated for the 13th November 2017 and ongoing efforts to alleviate difficulties within a large segment of citizens, occasioned by the severest drought Somaliland has seen in over six decades.
“First I extend thanks to the U.K. government for dispatching a high level delegation to our country for face to face discussions on various issues” said Abdirahman Irro who recently resigned from his perch a speaker of parliament in order to concentrate on his quest for the Somaliland presidency.
Stressing on the valued friendship with Britain, the Wadani Opposition party leader revealed that not only will the promised funding but actual involvement of the U.K. Government will see to it that the Somaliland democratization process does not falter but presidential elections are held timely, fairly and transparently.
Prior to departure the Britons also met with civil society organizations, revealed through a tweet by minister Rory .@RoryStewartUK read “met civil society in #Mogadishu & #Hargeisa; discussed progress, challenges & important, valuable role they play in #Somalia”
A visit to Mogadishu the capital of Somalia preceded the one to Hargeisa.
The final function held in Somaliland by the U.K. delegation led by Rory Stewart who since June 2017 is the joint minister of state for international Development and minister of state for the foreign and commonwealth office was revealed through a tweet by Ambassador Concar @DConcar
“Proud to take @RoryStewartUK to see 2 examples of #UKaid in action in #Hargeisa: saving lives of malnourished children; engineering new roads” tweeted the U.K. Envoy to Somalia.
While Somaliland is a regular host to British officials the Minister Stewart Rory one has been one of the broadest from London.
For the Somaliland democratization process the announcement that president elections shall be supported by the U.K is very good news considering recent acrimonious between Hargeisa and London as well as other major international partners who form the Somaliland democratization steering committee-SDSC
Members of this committee include Denmark, Ireland, EU Delegation, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom, Sweden and United States.
The fallout with SDSC which has been involved both financially and technically in the Somaliland democratization process all the way from the first elections of 2002 came about after decision to not only separate Presidential and parliamentary elections thence slated for March 2015 but postponed parliamentary ones indefinitely while delaying presidential ones with subsequent term extension for two years.
While separation of the planned two polls were allegedly attributed to confusion over the inequitable representation by constituency which for the Somaliland legislature is regions, those of the presidency came to have drought as justification.

the drought has displaced thousands of Somaliland families With the drought acknowledged as being very severe leading to large numbers of internal displacement and near extinction of livestock the International community in the guise of the SDSC did not mince words in raising objection.
Pledging to continue making significant contributions to address the humanitarian consequences of the drought, a statement issued by the IC January 017 read, “The severe humanitarian impact of the drought for the individual communities in Somaliland are undeniable and disturbing, which necessitates an urgent response coupled by vigorous leadership by the Government in cooperation with partners, who following the situation closely and with great concern”
Adding that “The drought should not be used as an excuse for putting the democratic process in Somaliland on hold” and in between a veiled threat “While the commitment of international partners to support a positive development trajectory for the Somaliland people stands intact, this most recent announcement of further delays forces international partners to consider the implications for our engagement and the way we work with the Somaliland government”

It is therefore obvious that the announcement that British taxpayers shall help NEC meet its expenditure for the presidential polls met with a huge sigh of relief considering that Britain which is discernible influential can influence the SDCS to rescind withdrawal of funding emanating from the veiled threat.
Following subsequent postponement of the presidential polls despite IC urgings to the contrary, the U.K. took the bull by its horns and withdrew the Somaliland government’s invitation to the London conference on Somalia held in May this year. The second of its nature organized and hosted by Britain but the first without participation by Somaliland.
“We have lost confidence and trust in the government of Somaliland as pertains to its commitment to the democratization process” said then Deputy UK envoy to Somalia Amb Andrew Allen during a visit to Hargeisa in March as he revealed Somaliland shall not be a participant at the May London conference
Rory Stewart with Somaliland public works minister Ali Marehan in Hargeisa According to the diplomat “the lost confidence and trust by the U.K. and other members of the international community emanate from frequent delays in the election process that ensued with extended tenure for the presidency, legislature and local councils.
In elaboration the U.K. envoy with responsibilities for Somaliland said “I have been to Hargeisa thrice, on the first visit I was told that presidential elections will be held in March this year, on the second trip it turned to October and on this third one am informed the polls have now been scheduled to December 2017”
With subsequent ramifications of the fallout between the administration in Hargeisa and the IC coupled by drought induced constraints, the timely presidential polls became uncertain not to mention the ongoing tug of war in parliament where the election of Irro’s successor as speaker is in dispute.
That said, the hopes given by the Brits is good news  despite the fact that, Citizens who thought that a Yes Brexit will release the U.K. from the EU position of the Somaliland recognition, are dampening for the status remain same as pertains recognition of the former Somaliland British protectorate (1884-1960) as a sovereign nation by Westminster.
Sample quote on HMG Policy on Somaliland
The UK’s policy on the recognition of Somaliland is well known. Somaliland is not recognised by us or any other country, although UN resolutions generally refer to Somaliland as a ‘regional administration’. UK policy has long been that the Somali people themselves should determine the future relationship between Somalia and Somaliland, and that their neighbours and other African countries should take the lead in recognising any new arrangements. Read  Official FCO document s on Her Majesty Governement’s Policy on Somaliland

The last British Somaliland flag
Related information
Somaliland: IEO Mission Gives 2016 voter Registration a Clean Bill 

Somaliland: Denmark Commits to Drought Relief Support, Urge Timely Elections

Somaliland: IC Partners Dismayed by Guurti’s Decision to Further Delay Elections

Somaliland: Strong US Delegation Visits Hargeisa, Pledges Enhanced Cooperation