13 March 2018

Somalia: Somaliland - Between Democracy and Prosperity

Photo: Deutche welle
Berbera corridor

Democracy helps keep things together, and radicalism in check, in Somaliland. Democracy in this Muslim country also has to be implemented in an environment beset by poverty, and where Islamic radicalism is an attractive alternative for some. By GREG MILLS & JACO-LOUIS DU PLESSIS.

"I'll give you 15 camels," said Caqil Tayib, a big grin on his face. The "offer" by the camel trader was for the chief protocol officer of Somaliland's Minister of Foreign Affairs. We managed to raise the price to 150, honour being satisfied all round amid much laughter in Hargeisa's Qudhac Dher market, equivalent to a sum over $100,000.

Camels are a critical commodity for Somaliland, the former British Somaliland to Somalia's north. They are not only used as dowry, but to settle disputes and the main source, other than diaspora remittances, of income in the dry, dusty and hitherto diplomatically unrecognised land.

Somaliland originally achieved independence from Britain, which had ruled it since the 1880s, on 26 June 1960, the former Italian Somaliland following suit five days later when the two territories united to form the Somali Republic on 1 July 1960. A third "Somali star", French Somalia, now Djibouti, achieved independence from Paris in...


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