Long-time campaigner for national self-determination, West Midlands MEP James Carver took part in Somaliland’s 27th anniversary of independence this week.
He travelled to the small African nation’s capital, Hargeisa, as a guest of vice president Abdirahman Saylici where he attended a celebratory parade and had informal talks with government leaders.
Mr Carver, a UKIP MEP, who has visited Somaliland on three previous occasions, is a staunch supporter of its bid to be internationally recognised as an independent country again.
He said: “All peoples have the right to self-determination. Given the historical injustices suffered by Somalilanders, the preservation of this right is all the more important.
“I have long been a supporter of Somaliland re-recognition. The massive loss of life suffered during the civil war within Somalia means that no Somalilander could ever contemplate placing the lives of his family, friends and countrymen in the hands of a potentially hostile neighbour.
“For Somaliland to prosper, both economically and politically, it is imperative that the international community recognise Somaliland’s sovereignty.
“It is my hope that in turn, this would lead to even greater prosperity and freedom across the Horn of Africa.”
In 1960 British Somaliland became independent for just five days before choosing to merge with Italian Somaliland into the Somali Republic. However, the people had no say in the making of the new constitution and the early years of the union saw the steady political and economic isolation of former Somaliland.
After assuming power in a military coup in 1969, Mohamed Siad Barre led a brutal military dictatorship, which led to the formation of the Somalia National Movement in the north (Somaliland) in 1981.
Barre’s forces pursued rebel guerrillas in the territory. Tens of thousands of people were killed, and towns were flattened, until his eventual overthrow in 1991 when Somalilanders assumed their independence again.
Though not internationally recognised, Somaliland has a working political system, government institutions, a police force and its own currency.