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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Somali Separatist Ambitions.

In my daily scour of the internet for international news a story that really caught my eye was the recent elections in the self Governing Somalian province of Somaliland.

Voters all over the province headed to the polls on Saturday to democratically elect their new President. Over 1 million citizens were on the electoral register in the region of more than 3.5 million. The elections were marred by security threats from the Al Qaeda inspired Shebab group which has been responsable for major troubles in the rest of the country over the past few years.
The Shebab leader has called democracy the "Devil's Principles" and promised the people of Somaliland would "face the consequences for going to the polls". The group is unhappy with Somaliland's  strong ties to Ethiopia and their autonomy is a severe threat to Shebab's vision of a united Somalia.

This threat to electoral freedom led to the enforcement of rather strict security measures. The borders were completely shut down and mass transport across the country was also prohibited for the day without special permits, pretty much reserved to those on the electoral commission. Fortunately however, there have been no reports of violence.

The people of Somaliland hope that these free and democratic elections will strengthen their case for international recognition as a country which so far has not been forthcoming. The country established itself as a self declared Republic in 1991 after the fall off the central Somalian Government in 1991. It covers a similar region to the former British colony in Somalia. Since then the region has enjoyed relative peace in comparison to its troubled surrounding neighbours.

While the main Somali Government wishes for a re-unified Somalia it did congratulate the Somaliland people on holding peaceful and free elections. And with the world refusing to acknowledge the state's independence as its own state it seems as though the Somaliland people may continue to live in limbo.

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