Somaliland: The Withdrawal from Union with Somalia


Somalilandsun – Summary – This report was written By Mark Bradbury and produced by Progressio -” When Mohamed Siad Barre was forced from power in 1991 the Somali state collapsed. In January that year, as the USC took control of Mogadishu, the SNM captured the northern cities of Berbera, Hargeisa and Burao.

On 18 May 1991 the people of the north-west regions of Somalia revoked the 1960 Act of Union that joined the colonial territories of British Somaliland and Italian Somalia, and announced the secession of the ‘Republic of Somaliland’. The declaration of independence was made without consulting Somalia’s numerous other political factions and consequently Somaliland remains unrecognised by the international community.

Secession had never been a stated aim of the SNM. The decision by the leaders of the SNM to reassert Somaliland’s sovereignty was made under popular pressure during the ‘Grand Conference of the Northern Peoples’ in May 1991, held in the city of Burco (Drysdale,1992). The formation in February 1991 of an interim government in Mogadishu by the USC went against a previous accord between the SNM, USC and the SPM. The people of the northwest, particularly the Issaq who formed the backbone of the SNM, feared that any further relationship with Mogadishu would lead to a repeat of the persecution they had suffered under military rule. Secession was also a pragmatic stance to distance the north from the factional fighting in the south, and a recognition that northerners, the Issaq in particular, had no territorial claims over the south. It was also believed that security and stability in the north would attract much-needed international aid.

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