Article from ROAPE Volume 34 Number 113
Somaliland: A New Democracy in Horn of Africa?
With a constitutionally-based and popularly elected government, the Republic of Somaliland, which broke away from Somalia in 1991, has a democratic system matched by few other countries in Africa and the Middle East. However, Somaliland's independence has not been recognised internationally. Moreover developments in neighbouring countries suggest that people in Somaliland will face serious challenges in entrenching a democratic political system. This article takes as its point of departure Georg Sorensen's definition of democracy. His definition is employed, together with the history of elections in the region, to explore the challenges people in Somaliland face in establishing a democratic political system, in this sense the article aims to explore the challenges of the future, rather than analyse the processes of the past. These include, among others, the shift from a clan-based form of political representation and competition to one based on political parties as forums for political representation and competition, the urban-based nature of political discourse in a still predominantly rural society, and the absence of a strong independent media.