Somalia: UK Lawmakers Hold General Debate on Somaliland Independence
Nairobi — The House of Commons on Tuesday held an hour-long adjournment debate during which lawmakers deliberated on Somaliland’s clamour for self-determination.
Gavin Williamson, Conservative Member of Parliament for South Staffordshire, who tabled the motion anchored the general debate on “the fact Somaliland has developed so much.”
“In those years of conflict–where so many Somalilanders had their lives under threat, and so many hundreds of thousands were displaced, both internally within Somaliland and externally–that dream and that vision of creating their own homeland once again and re-establishing those old territorial borders burned bright, and that is what they were able to achieve in 1991,” he asserted.
Williamson was referring to Somaliland’s unilateral declaration of independence in 1991 after the Somali civil was in the 80s during which the then administration led by Said Barre was accused of killings thousands of Somaliland natives in a crackdown against guerrilla fighters.
Under the Westminster system, adjournment debates have been used as a mechanism to enable House debates in general terms without the need to make a decision.
Labour MP Rushanara (Bethnal Green and Bow) Ali said it was time the UK government formally recognized Somaliland’s right to self-determination.
“Last year, Somaliland celebrated 30 years since the declaration of independence. It has built up its own independent Government, its own currency and democratic elections. It has shown the capability to establish a state,” he stated.
Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling) who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee welcomed the general debate saying recognizing Somalilanders will support the furtherance of democracy.
“It would demonstrate that independent states that govern themselves well in democracies can succeed, and we can partner with them.”
While commenting on the debate which did not necessitate a vote but an opportunity for lawmakers to ventilate on the matter, UK Minister for Africa, Latin America and Caribbean said the discourse was consistent with the UK’s position on Somaliland.
Vicky Ford, who was on her second day of a tour in Kenya, however insisted that both Somaliland and Somalia must “decide their future.”
“We continue to cooperate with Federal Government of Somalia and Somaliland on democracy, security and prosperity,” she said.
The debate came against the backdrop of sustained efforts by Somaliland to earn international recognition with President Muse Bihi Abdi embarking on a two-day visit to Ethiopia at the invitation of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Somaliland welcomed the debate with one the its senior diplomats saying the country deserves to be recognized due to its commitment to democracy.
“Our country deserves to be recognized as all our governments from 1991 – 2022 use democracy to keep our people together,” Somaliland’s envoy in Taiwan, Mohamed Hagi, remarked.
Speaking during his visit in Ethiopia, President Abdi asked the UK government to “listen” and grant Somalilanders their “rightful ambition.”
Somaliland has been seeking to forge strong relations with nations in the region including Kenya which created a Liaison Office in September 2021 and deployed four officers to Hargeisa.
President Abdi made a visit to Kenya in December 2020 when he held talks with President Kenyatta prompting a protest by Somalia, a fierce opponent of Somaliland’s quest to be recognized as an independent State.
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