Vincent Defait, Hargeisa, Somaliland – Proclaimed independent 24 years ago but not recognized by the international community, Somaliland managed to maintain peace and stability within its borders. For how long? Without resources, the star pupil of the Horn of Africa seems fragile

The old MIG nose to the sky, standing in the heart of Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland. At the monument amid the curious, Hassan Mohamed, a retired civil servant, summarizes a quarter of a century of history, the raised finger to the craft. “I will never forget the bombing. Hargeisa was flattened. After, we separated from Somalia and we all repaired. We can never be reunited. ”
In late May 1988 the aircraft the Somali army covered the capital of Somaliland a carpet of bombs. Balance: 50 000 dead, half a million people on the roads and a radical rejection of the Mogadishu authorities. May 18, 1991, after a decade of war against the army of President Siyad Barre, supported at the time by the United States, Somaliland declared its independence. Since then, this small country in the Horn of Africa held three democratic presidential elections, maintained a rare stability in the region and built the foundations of a viable state. In vain. The international community refuses to recognize its sovereignty.
“Not in our lifetime”
“A state has been recognized, not the other. The problem is that it is the incompetent who was recognized “installment, in an office in the small university Franz Fanon he opened two years ago, Hussein Bulhan. A short taxi ride rickety in the quaint lobby of a hotel guarded by armed guards, a European diplomat said, fatalistic: “It would have regional powers and the African Union take the first step (towards the recognition of Somaliland, ed.) It will not happen, at least not in our lifetime. ”
The African Union is concerned, granting sovereignty in Somaliland, result balkanization of Somalia. The clans are too numerous and too divided to not be tempted to claim their independence in their turn. This is yet a quarter century that Somaliland escapes these clan wars: this simple snub to the Somali neighbor, mired in a civil war for a quarter century, is enough to maintain a sharp nationalism among 3.5 million Somalilanders.
Full tickets wheelbarrow
For 24 years, the country survives on money from the diaspora and revenues of the port of Berbera, source of 80% of $ 295 million from the government budget. Half is devoted to the army and police. The State also receives a modest aid, but no legal existence and banking system worthy of the name, the Somaliland government is not entitled to financial bilateral agreements with other states.
Sitting on the red couch of his office, the debonair governor of the Central Bank Abdullahi Haji Jama Ali adapts the status quo. “Even without taxes, the state is doing. Our economy is unique but good. On “Again, peer recognition change the situation, he said, between sips of tea with milk.
“We could have IMF loans, the World Bank, the African Development Bank …” Meanwhile, the country has more prosaic concerns. At the entrance to the establishment, a man walks away, pushing a wheelbarrow full of banknotes. “No doubt the officials of wages, ‘says Abdullahi Haji Jama unblinking Ali, on the steps of his establishment.
Here the national shilling is worthless and the public sector is little. Economic power is behind the counters of Dahabshiil agencies, leading money transfer in Africa. Close to the monument MIG, in one of the crisp and lively group of agencies, customers scramble, wads of banknotes hands full. Behind the counter, sterling, euros or Ringgit Malaysia are converted into dollars and placed on SMS payment accounts.
Safe capital
In Somaliland, the invoices are settled in effect with a mobile phone. The Somaliland shilling is only used for small everyday purchases and ends on the market downtown. Between the shelves of Qat, a plant with exciting virtues of men sitting behind the cash mountains exchange tickets bricks at 8000 shillings Somaliland against the dollar. And not a policeman in sight. The paradox is shouting Hargeisa is a safe city but silted up in a shouting underdevelopment.
In Hargeisa center of the restaurant where young people come sip coffees and teas sweetened milk, Sharmarke Jama sighs finishing his breakfast. “I think here that no institution is able to produce letters of credit …” Child of the British diaspora became Trade Adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the elegant thirties in London accent part in negotiations on the construction of an extension of the port of Berbera and the allocation of its concession to a foreign company. The Bolloré group and Dubai Ports World are struggling to win the market.
Ethiopian manna?
In theory, Somaliland could enjoy double-digit growth of neighboring Ethiopia: Addis Ababa, it is envisaged transit of Berbera 30% of Ethiopian imports, against only 5% today. But it would put the road condition to allow hundreds of trucks to pass each day. Again, the lack of funds and clan interests hinder decision making. Sharmarke Jama insists: “Infrastructure is the next step in the development of Somaliland. Hopefully we will not miss this opportunity. ”
Outside in the dust of capital that looks like a large village, it still carries water to poor neighborhoods with carts pulled by donkeys. Indeed, Somaliland stalled. Politically too. The upper house of parliament, which meets old, has not been renewed since 2005 and the presidential election, after that of 2010, will take place in 2017 with two years late.
Temptation to withdraw
In a recent report, the International Crisis Group warns that the fragility of public institutions exposes the country to the growing influence of “clanocratie” who sees the clan interests take over a young democratic political system. With two thirds of the unemployed population, the temptation to withdraw or violence is there. In the streets of Hargeisa or the corridors of ministries, we admit with regret that some of the leaders of the Islamist militias Shabaabss, rampant in Somalia, Somaliland come.
In the rustle of a cafe where wifi beats speed records, a forty requesting anonymity, puts his smartphone that leaves little to evoke a moment this strange country where he grew up. Went through a refugee camp before moving diplomas by correspondence with an Indian university, he is optimistic. “It seems that we have reached a limit,” he acknowledges, but “on the other hand, it was twenty years ago, there was no police, no government … Now we no longer speak of but security development … “And that’s probably what Somaliland holds most dear: the pride of doing well with some.


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