Somaliland celebrates 30 years of self-rule

Saturday May 22 2021
Somaliland's President Muse Bihi Abdi.

Somaliland's President Muse Bihi Abdi. PHOTO | AFP


The self-declared Republic of Somaliland marked 30 years of self-rule with festivities in the capital Hargeisa.

On May 18, 1991, Somaliland announced independence from the rest of Somalia.

The crucial event occurred at Burao town, about160 km east of Hargeisa, the capital, following a reconciliation conference where representatives of multiple clans converged just five months after the fall of the dictatorial regime of General Mohamed Siad Barre in Mogadishu in January 1991.

The self-rule was announced by the Somali Nation Movement (SNM), a guerrilla group that fought Mr Barre’s military in the former British Somaliland Protectorate. The rebel’s chairman Abdurahman Ahmed Ali alias Abdurahman Tour became the breakaway republic’s first president for two years on an interim capacity.

Since then, the state had held a number of presidential elections that saw Mohamed Ibrahim Egal, Dahir Rayale Kahin and Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo rise to power. Somaliland’s current President is Muse Bihi Abdi.    

This week, notable festivities took place in Hargeisa. Popular music was the most visible, especially at the city centre’s independence square.


The vibrant social media indicates that President Bihi congratulated the people on Somaliland celebrating the 30th anniversary.

“It is the day (18th of May) we regained the independence we lost in 1960,” President Bihi reportedly said, referring to the year in which the region gained independence from Britain, but united with the former Italian Somalia.

Though not recognised by any country in the world, Somaliland hosts a number of diplomatic offices and it keeps representatives in a large number of countries in and out of Africa, especially in neighbouring Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya, despite having no formal diplomatic status under the Vienna Convention.

The ‘independent state’ has enjoyed relative stability over the past three decades and established important institutions including a bicameral parliament (House of Representatives known as Golaha Wakiilada and the Chamber of Elders known as Guurti), a central bank, local currency, national identity and a defence force.

The state’s name Somaliland originates from the former British Somaliland Protectorate that was ruled by Britain until the territory gained independence on June 26, 1960. However, it merged with the former Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic on July 1, 1960.

As per records, Somaliland’s pre-unity five days enjoyed the recognition of 35 countries including the United States and UK and bilateral organizations like the United Nations.