The International Crisis Group has just released http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=6420“>a new report on Somaliland.
Somaliland’s general election was scheduled for spring 2008 during my tenure in East Africa. Due to delays in the voter registration process all three political parties were able to agree on a postponement of the election date, but the matter of extending the president’s tenure in office after the expiration of his term was always a bit ambiguous. A year-and-a-half later, this really needs to be brought to fruition.
I always greatly admired the ability of Somalilanders to pull and keep a meaningful form of governance together with so little to start with, and such little help. Certainly the economy is hampered in many ways by the isolation resulting from the lack of formal diplomatic recognition. While I was there it was extremely difficulty to get US permission for official US travelers (for instance, we were unsuccessful in getting US Gov’t permission for USAID consultants sent to Nairobi to evaluate democracy support programming to actually visit the country). At the same time, the isolation has given them some space to work through their own challenges without some of the pitfalls often seen from international involvement, and a little breathing room in the lee of the winds of a globalized economy.
As a practical matter, it always seemed to me that Somaliland was a country of equal legitimacy and coherence with many others in the general area, whether the diplomatic community was ready to speak in that language or not. The US always said it was waiting on the AU, and the AU was always going to act in accordance with the interests of its current players. And of course the Bush Administration was heavily invested in that particular iteration of the TFG in Baidoa at that time.