6.1 Historical continuity of statehood

The political representation and authors justifying the right of Somaliland to independence emphasize the previous independent existence of British Somaliland before the unification of the two colonial units, the British and the Italian, into a unitary state (interview with Abdillahi Duale; Bradbury, Abokor and Yusuf 2003; Carroll and Rajagopal 1993). The most important argument is the independence of British Somaliland declared on 26 June 1960, i.e. five days before UN Trust Territory of Somalia.

Therefore, before the unification of both the colonies to a single state, there was an independent political unit territorially defined by colonial frontiers, recognized by 35 states of the international community (Bradbury, Abokor and Yusuf 2003; Farley 2010: 780; Bryden 2003: 342; Shinn 2002: 1).[6]

In this regard, the establishment of the Republic of Somalia was the result of joining an independent Somaliland with a newly decolonized Trust Territory of Somalia. Although it was not confirmed by a nationwide vote, it was negotiated by democratically elected political representatives and was particularly motivated by efforts to achieve unity of all Somali territories (interview with Abdillahi Duale; Government of Somaliland 2001: 3).


As British Somaliland joined the union with the UN Trust Territory of Somalia voluntarily, it should also have the possibility to voluntarily withdraw from the union (Government of Somaliland 2013a). The unification of former British Somaliland with the UN Trust Territory of Somalia under the administration of Italy is considered invalid because no agreement on the union was concluded which would be confirmed by both parties.

Instead, different Acts of Union were passed which were ratified independently by the parliaments of northern and southern Somalia (Government of Somaliland 2013a). According to Bryden (2003: 343), the united Republic of Somalia could only exist because it was recognized by the international community without this union having been confirmed by legally binding documents approved in both parts of the country.

Inhabitants of northern Somalia felt discriminated in the newly established state because all the key ministries, as well as important positions in the government and the majority in the parliament, belonged to representatives of southern Somalia and therefore representatives of northern Somalia could not efficiently influence the policy of the new state (interview with Abdillahi Duale; Lewis 2010: 24).

In addition, Mogadishu which is situated in the south of the country was elected as the new capital, and Hargeysa, the former capital of British Somaliland, was marginalized. Due to all these reasons, inhabitants of northern Somalia voted against the adoption of the new Constitution in the referendum of 20 June 1961. This dissatisfaction also resulted in the first attempt at a military overthrow which ended without success but caused the adoption of numerous measures which helped the unification of the whole country (Brons 2001: 160).

With regard to dissatisfaction with the government in Mogadishu, at least half of the voters in the north of Somalia boycotted the referendum and the majority of submitted votes were against the adoption of the new constitution. The majority of voters in southern Somalia voted for the adoption of the constitution, and therefore the government managed to enforce it.

However, the referendum was accompanied by irregularities, e.g. the election commission in Wanla Weyn near Mogadishu registered more pro-votes than there were registered voters (Adam 1994: 25). This is the reason that the representation of Somaliland considers the referendum on the constitution invalid and manipulated (interview with Abdillahi Duale).

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