Somalia. On May 2, around 400 Somalis gathered in Djibouti for a peace conference led by Djibouti President Ismail Umar Guelleh. The UN, the Arab League and other international organizations also supported the conference. Here, clans who considered each other as enemies since the state collapsed in 1991. In August, the conference appointed a provisional parliament, which elected former Interior Minister Abdulkassim Salat Hassan as new president. He appointed prime minister the business manager and former Industry Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh.
At least 50,000 people met the new president when he came to Mogadishu shortly after the appointment. The Islamic courts and businessmen supported Salat, but the leaders of the clan militia, who now saw their power threatened, refused to acknowledge him. The self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland in the northwest and the Puntland region in the northeast also distanced themselves from the new state power.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Somalia. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
But the new administration provisionally installed itself in a hotel in Mogadishu, surrounded itself with bodyguards paid by the business community and tried to build a new, neutral police force and army. A budget was presented, which was expected to be financed by the Arab League, the UN and the EU.
Two murders showed that the militia leaders were serious about their threats. A former general engaged by the new administration to lead the disarmament of private militia was shot dead in October, and in November a member of the new parliament was assassinated.
Somaliland has a parliament with two chambers: a people-elected House of Representatives with 82 members and an elder council, guurti, with the same number of members, who are responsible for laws on religion, traditions and security. The members of the guurti are appointed by the clans. According to the constitution, elections must be conducted every six years, but this has not happened.
The president is elected in general elections for a term of five years. They can be re-elected. Members of the House of Representatives are also to be elected directly by the people for five years, but no elections have been held since 2010. According to the latest bid, elections must be held no later than November 2019. The intention is that the members of the House of Commons should be elected in indirect elections, but disagreement prevails over the forms. For the time being, the members appointed in 1997 remain on their posts. In the event that someone has died, or passed away, that member has been replaced by a relative.
The constitution guarantees freedom of assembly.
Only three parties are allowed to stand in the presidential and parliamentary elections. The parties allowed to participate depend on the results they have achieved in the local elections. They are today the Peace, Unity and Development Party (Kulmiye), Justice and Development Party (Ururka Caddaalada iyo Daryeelka, Ucid) and the Waddani Party.
There are no major ideological differences between the parties, but it is mostly about different clans supporting different parties. The rules favor the parties that were independent and have made it difficult for new parties to gain any influence. The ruling party Kulmiye is dominated by issaq’s subclans habar awal and habar jeclo. Although women formally have the same rights as men, they have limited influence over politics. Two women sat in the House of Representatives in 2017, but only one in the elderly house. The latter was appointed after her husband left the congregation. In 2017, two of 24 ministers were women.
Freedom of speech is limited and those who criticize the government risk being punished for it.
Conflict with Puntland on Sool and Sanaag
Somaliland has a border conflict with Puntland over the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions. It has on several occasions led to armed confrontations. In 2012, the leaders of these regions announced a new “state”, Khaatumo, which wants autonomy within Somalia.
The judiciary must be independent and no laws may conflict with Islamic Sharia law. The legal system is a mixture of formal legislation, Sharia law and customary law. But in practice, the government often interferes with the work of the courts, especially in cases involving journalists, and it is common for the judicial process to be settled outside the formal system. There is a great shortage of trained judges in Somaliland.
Limited international contacts
Somaliland’s hopes for international recognition were strengthened when Sudan was divided in 2011 and the new state of South Sudan was formed. The issue is central, not least because Somaliland cannot receive any more substantial financial support from the outside world before being recognized as an independent state. However, assistance comes from, among others, the UK, Denmark and the EU.
Ethiopia is the country with which Somaliland has its closest relations and the most vibrant trade exchange.
Somaliland has offices in South Africa, Ethiopia and Ghana which in practice act as embassies. The EU and Sweden treat Somaliland as “an autonomous region”. In 2005, Somaliland applied for membership in the African Union (AU), but was rejected because the organization wants to respect the borders that prevailed when Somalia became independent. The Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC), the Arab League and the UN have also opposed changing borders.
In practice, Somaliland has regular contacts with a number of countries, including Sweden. The relationship with Djibouti has been both good and strenuous.
Cool between Hargeisa and Mogadishu
Somaliland and the government of Mogadishu have had a chilly relationship and have no formal contacts, as the latter opposes a division of Somalia. The same attitude has the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab controlling parts of Somalia.
Since 2012, however, with international mediation, there has been a dialogue between the governments of Hargeisa and Mogadishu. In 2013, the two presidents of Turkey met and agreed on the need for cooperation against, among other things, terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste. Somalia also promised to facilitate Somaliland better access to international support.
Somaliland has in the 2010 century made closer contacts with the United Arab Emirates. Among other things, they have signed an agreement on the port of Berbera (see below). The Gulf state will also build a military base in Somaliland and has promised to train Somali defense forces and police forces, which has been heavily criticized by the Mogadishu government.
Limited freedom of the press
Freedom of the press and expression is guaranteed in the constitution, but in practice the freedom of the media is cut. Journalists from independent media have been arrested and sentenced to prison, but other forms of harassment also occur. The authorities have in recent years blocked several websites and accused them of spreading “fake news”. In 2018, two private TV channels were closed following allegations of lack of neutrality in their reporting from the disputed Sool region. There are several daily and weekly newspapers, of which one is state. It is in the private newspapers that some criticism of the government can be published. They are often financed by Somalis abroad. But all the magazines are small. British BBC radio broadcasts on Somali reach numerous listeners.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Somalia in 2000 was 8,872,143, ranking number 83 in the world. The population growth rate was 3.440% yearly, and the population density was 14.1427 people per km2.