Somaliland Lack of Purpose other than Treason in the past had the Somalis of the North expressed a desire for secession;
there was no purpose and substance in this regard, as they are Somalis like all rest, and irrespective of the type of colonial experience and the mistreatment under a dictatorial government, a common historical – cultural – linguistic – religious heritage that spans over 4 millennia has irrevocably united them. The purposelessness of the Somaliland project is highlighted by Nur Hersi Bahal as follows:

“As is always the case for governments of most tribal societies, the Somaliland government has wasted resource juggling tribal interest; courting the world for recognition, trying hard to put a façade of good governance and other minuscule tasks that do not affect the livelihood of the society. The successive Somaliland governments were obsessed with stretching their tenure and inflating their power. It
is logical that the more adverse dealings a government has to juggle, the more desirable and attractive it becomes to stay in power and the more it stays in power, the more autocratic it becomes. It will not have time to accomplish any of the elementary responsibilities charged with governments but will simply become consumed by the politics of survival.

Maintaining order, upholding justice, attending to the welfare of the society, regulating the economy and establishing basic educational systems become the sacrificial lambs of the desire to prolong its term in office. It creates more national dramas, gives out more immaterial rewards or powers to tribes to court them for votes. The recent regions in Somaliland reek of folly and votes. Not counting the most obvious other disadvantages, too many regions in a small underdeveloped country like Somaliland will create too many levels of administrations, each connected only to the central government, thus, creating small centers of isolated, overstaffed offices and rigid administrations. In other words, it is equivalent to
the formation of mini-dictatorships in the country”.


Here is based the focal point of Somaliland´s incapacity to become a nation and to
stand firm. When the primordial elements of the historical – cultural heritage and
the national identity are taken away, the society tends to be based on elements that
cannot help further homogenizing but contribute to disbanding. By this, we certainly
we don´t imply that the only elements able to unite a country are the historical –
cultural heritage and the national identity; in fact, these elements are critical
for the formation of modern societies. Royalty, religion are two other elements that
united nations for millennia. However, when all the aforementioned elements are
deliberately put aside, localism prevails, and if old social structures survive,
tribalism reigns. No one can be based on disparate elements that have the tendency
to over-magnify particularities and individualisms. This was inevitable in the case
of Somaliland. It would be the same in any purposelessly seceded part of a nation.

The details of tribalism are very well exposed by Nur Hersi Bahal in the focal part
of the aforementioned article, entitled ´the Guurti´ (the House of Elders).

“In Article 83(5), the Somaliland Constitution specifies that: If on the expiry of
the term of office of the President and the Vice-President, it is not possible,
because of security considerations, to hold the election of the President and the
Vice-President, the House of Elders shall extend their term of office whilst taking
into consideration the period in which the problems can be overcome and the election
can be held. (italics are mine).

The sole reason, according to this article, for extending the President and Vice-
Presidents´ terms of office is if there is a security consideration. The article fails to
explain the kind of security consideration, how serious it has to be, who
determines the magnitude or seriousness and source of the security threat, what is
the role of the parliament and other institutions. It is too general and too broad
that, in my opinion, it is badly written to begin with and presents a gaping
loophole in the constitution. As the House of Elders is the caretaker of stability
in Somaliland their concern should be amending the loopholes in the constitution
and not using them as a quid pro quo for the extension of their term that they
received from the President not long ago. This is not the first time that the
Guurti lies in the bed of the Executive Branch.

On 27 April 2002, the House of Elders (Guurti) extended the term of office of the
House of Representatives by one year just before it was to expire in May 2002. Again
they extended it by two years
in February 2003 and by six months in October 2005. The Guurti, then, claimed that
according to Article 42(3) of the Constitution, the country was in “Dire
Circumstance” (quotations/italics are mine) which warranted this extensions.
According to this article, dire circumstances are: a wide war, internal
instability, serious natural disasters, such as earthquakes, epidemic diseases,
(and) serious famines. As these circumstances did not exist at the time, it may be
accurate to say that they covering up for the governments inefficiencies. It is
interesting to note the lack of depth in this article but it is also more
interesting to note that Guurti never take upon themselves to openly acknowledge
the existence of these “dire circumstances” when they exist and campaign the
government to take immediate action.

Ideally, a Guurti is a group of people selected for impartiality and acuity from a
broad-based representation. The Somaliland Guurti seems, on the one hand, to possess personal independence, but as a group their role as
guardians of inter/intra-tribal peace and harmony, cultures and traditions subtly
mutated to guardians of the Executive Branch. They became an adjunct or an
extension of the government. As recipients of government remuneration, in a nation
were poverty is the norm rather than the exception, they have opted out of the role
their noble role.

I believe that Somaliland´s Guurti should be concerned with developing, promoting
and maintaining the peace and stability. They were the pioneers and the exponents of
the peace enjoyed in Somaliland today. Their persistent indemnification of the gores
which the politicians inflict on the society is a crucial requisite for the
continued blossoming of the Oasis. As individuals steeped in the cultures and
customs of the society, they have a unique opportunity to solidify a culture absent
of corruption by rejecting to become a mouthpiece for either the government or the opposition. This is simply an extension of the peace they began. They need to understand that if they become implicated in more and more controversies; peace becomes less and less significant in the eyes of the
average person”.


If one adds to the aforementioned the inclination to corruption, which is only normal in an individualistic society ruled by tribal chieftains on the basis of their micro-financial interests, one gets the whole picture. This is excellently underscored by Nur Hersi Bahal in the following terms:

“The institutionalization of tribalism in Somaliland is a deterrent to any meaningful governance. The quality of people given the reigns of the institutions is a compromise and not a choice, thus, highlighting the symbolic status of institutions void of any substantive developmental goals. The situation is also
exacerbated by a civil service prone to corruption and a society
with intense desire to exploit corruption as an effective tool to by-pass red tape”.

I find that the conclusion of Nur Hersi Bahal unveils in the best possible way the
reality of the end of Somaliland, which is epigrammatically denoted by a single
word: chaos.

“The latest onslaught of wars in the east and explosions in the capital and the
general sense of apprehension is nothing but a symptom of a deeper cataclysmic
political malaise. Although peace was established in Somaliland, strategies to
prevent the return of the prior social chaos have not even been looked at. So in a
way, it can be argued that the peace in Somaliland might be a transition to a more
adverse chaos. Chaos begins with authority´s abuse of power”.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at