The breakaway state of Somaliland is preparing to celebrate 28 years since it declared independence from Somalia. No country recognizes Somaliland as a sovereign nation, but in the capital, preparations for the celebration are under way.
Inside a boardroom in the Somaliland parliament, legislator Abdurahman Atan explained his country’s struggle for international recognition.
“There’s a legitimate case for Somaliland to be recognized, a legitimate case to look at what has been done, legitimate case about the yearnings of Somaliland people to be free and independent,” he said. “They have a right to do so and a right to be part of the international community.”
Outside, the streets of Hargeisa were receiving a face lift ahead of Saturday, when thousands of people will gather at independence square to celebrate the anniversary of the independence declaration.
Despite the lack of international recognition, Somalilanders like Hargeisa student Mohamed Abdullahi are looking forward to the day.
“According to ourselves we are independent, and that’s why we are proud and very happy to see many people celebrating this historic day,” Abdullahi said.
Trader Ahmed Adan felt the same, calling the independence celebration a “very great day.”
Briefly independent before
Somaliland, a former British colony, briefly gained independence in 1961. Five days later, it merged with Somalia after Mogadishu gained independence from Italy.
After years of conflict and the ouster of former Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre, Somaliland declared independence in 1991.
Somaliland now has its own police, army and currency, and has held regular elections for parliament and a president. It enjoys relative peace and stability, unlike Somalia, where African troops are helping the government fight al-Shabab and Islamic State militants