It seems that anyone looking into anything sensitive in Nairobi is subject to threat these days. This will be a good test of where things stand on impunity. If people can make death threats against people dispatched on behalf of the U.N. Security Council without getting arrested it wouldn’t seem to bode well for the rank-and-file journalist, lawyer or activist.
I highly recommend this article which I have referred to several friends. The author was the program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy who worked with our Kenya program funding and I met her briefly on the way to Africa in June 2007. From my perspective, she seems to have it right and I would simply add that the consequences of the US support for first the invasion by Ethiopia, and then the African Union force to try to uphold the Transitional Federal Government have included the US incurring debts to be paid to other governments in the region, including Kenya and Uganda.
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.