Somaliland’s Minister of Finance Dr. Saad Ali Shire underlined recognition is not everything, but though a good thing we have the right to be recognized, in an interview with BNC discussed the country’s need for recognition for its independence from Somalia.
“We haven’t been recognized yet and we think that’s wrong because that’s denying our people the rights that’s due to them,” he said.
In Somalia, there is an investigation after news that civilians were killed during a confrontation between African Union Peacekeeping troops and Al-Shabab fighters.
However, on the other side of the country is Somaliland, a relatively peaceful region. While Somaliland was a British colony and Somalia was colonized by Italy, they are essentially two countries on one land. Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 and has enjoyed a stable and democratically elected government ever since.
However, the Somaliland people have said that it’s long overdue that the international community recognizes them as their own country.
Dr. Saad Ali Shire, minister of finance of the Republic of Somaliland, joins Marc Lamont Hill on “Black News Tonight” to talk about the state of the country.
The interview with the Black News Channel (BNC), an American broadcast television news channel, targeting the African American demographic and based in Tallahassee, Florida, happened as follows: –
Dr. Saad Ali Shire – Thank you, right, Somaliland is not Somalia, Somaliland has a different history, and it was a British protectorate from 1897 to 1960, June 26, when it got its independence. And then decided to join Somalia, as two states, and that is what we did, but the union did not work, and in 1991, the people of Somaliland decided to leave the union, and since then, we have been able to develop and rebuild our country and establish a democratic country system and today, which is unlike the news to hear from Somalia.
BNC- you make an interesting distinction and said we are not seceding from Somalia, but we simply separated, to some without a difference, so when you decided to declare independence, were you not seceding, if not tell me, why distinction id important?
Dr. Saad Ali Shire – Well, it is very important, we were two different states with international boundaries, when we joined, and the union was between two states, it wasn’t a country that was annexed with another country or part of another country, and that union didn’t work, and if something doesn’t work, for example, it is like family, it can be divorced, exactly, we did the same and said, this was something that doesn’t help us and you, so we go out way, and you go your way, that is how it happened.
BNC – You have your own government, functioning as a separate country for Somalia for thirty years, why it is so difficult then, given all of this distinction, to have this recognition by the international community, what is at stake here?
Dr. Saad Ali Shire – That is a question for the international community! As you said, an independent state by any measure, we have an international boundary, and we have elected government and a population and we can enter treaties, and agreements to foreign states, our officials and president is given full protocols, when they go outside the country, so by any measure, and description, we are in a full state!
We haven’t been recognized yet, and we think that is wrong because, that is a denial of our people’s rights due to them, and some people say, well, if Somaliland is recognized, then that might open to Pandora box, but that is not the case, because the African Union Commission come to Somaliland in 2004, and they wrote a report which said, ‘Somaliland has absolutely nothing to do with Pandora box, and it has a very special case.
BNC- Has Somalia been helpful for the Somaliland struggle?
Dr. Saad Ali Shire – Well, Somalia has not been helpful, particularly, the current President. We started a dialogue, along with Somaliland back in 2012, and had up to ten meetings between us to discuss recognition issues and other issues, as well, and we had some agreements to some issues, but the Somalia government never respected the agreements which we reached.
In reality, we have some sort of difficulties, with the current president, but we hope, there would be a new President soon, and we would be able to discuss the matter again with Somalia.
BNC- What does recognition looks like to you? It is a membership status that adds to the UN, or we are talking about being able to different levels of trade, particularly, nations trade specifically with Somaliland, not Somalia? Or immune, or omitted Somaliland, if IC punishes Somalia? What is does look like?
Dr. Saad Ali Shire – Well, we want to be a member of the international community, and get all rights, privileges, and benefits being a full member. At the present time, unrecognition is problematic, it is difficult to travel, it is difficult to access international funds, or to access aid, even though miraculously, not recognized for the last 31 years, we have made enormous achievements, which have many countries which are recognized haven’t been made? Recognition is not everything, but still a good thing, and we have the right to be recognized.
BNC – Many people are looking at Al-Shabaab’s relationship with ISIS, people speculate how Somaliland differs, can you give us a comparison of what Somaliland differs from Somalia?
Dr. Saad Ali Shire – Somaliland is a beacon of peace and democracy, which is a rare thing for the Horn of Africa. We conducted elections of the House of Representatives and local councils, which happened in a smooth way, with no interruption, and achieved a lot in Somaliland.
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