The leadership of President Rayale, Somaliland’s third president (2002- 2010)
President Rayale became president of Somaliland with less political knowledge and foreign policy experience than his predecessors. Yet, during his period in power, which began when he won the presidential election of Somaliland in 2003 by a small margin, he could be seen to demonstrate political maturity and ethical leadership. After President Egal’s sudden death, Rayale was quick to start the process of uniting the country and reducing the political tensions that prevailed at that time. He quickly supported the process of holding the democratic elections that his predecessor initiated, creating a political environment that paved the way for one man-one vote.
President Rayale inherited the foreign policy environment that Egal had forged, and thus had to navigate the challenges that the preceding decade had left behind. Even though he tried to redeem Somaliland’s relations with Djibouti, the country’s political leaders remained reluctant to deepen ties with Somaliland.
Rayale’s most significant achievement with respect to foreign policy was his ability to strengthen Somaliland’s diplomatic relations with Ethiopia, particularly in the areas of security and anti-terrorism cooperation. This cooperation was very effective and productive and led to Somaliland’s security services earning the trust, collaboration, and training of Western security services.
In addition, President Rayale expanded Egal’s outreach to African states and the AU, where the Rayale administration was able to secure the unofficial and tacit support of several important African states in pushing for greater consideration of Somaliland’s claims for independence and recognition. Based on these diplomatic successes, President Rayale followed up in December 2005 by writing a direct application for admission to the AU, after an AU fact-finding mission report had made strong arguments in favor of the legal and political basis for Somaliland’s independence.
Equally, Rayale established close relations with the British Government, paying a historic visit to London where he delivered a landmark speech to British Lawmakers. Yusuf Roble, Somaliland scholar and author of the book Somaliland: A Nation Reborn has further explained the significance of President Rayale’s visit to the United Kingdom in 2004 in the following terms:
“Rayale’s visit to London has opened a new line of communication between the British government and its former Protectorate of Somaliland, which apparently attracted other European Union (EU) states to adopt a similar policy []”.
Nevertheless, there are some analysts who heavily criticized Rayale’s foreign policy, and characterized him as an isolationist and overly focused on the security dimension.
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