At least they do if Somaliland is anything to go by. Never heard of it? Neither had I until I read this today. Somaliland is the English speaking region to the north of war torn Somalia formerly known as the British Somaliland Protectorate. It gained independence in 1960 and rushed into an ill judged merger with Italian Somaliland before declaring independence again in 1991 after the collapse of the Somali government.
Since declaring independence The Republic Of Somaliland has not been offically recognised by any other country. Consequently, it does not qualify to receive any aid, but that does not appear to have bothered it too much.
According to this article in Somaliland "tar roads cover much of its 137000km², children are in school, hospitals have been set up, towns bombed by the late Said Barré have been rebuilt and, last year, Somaliland held the kind of general elections one would hope will come one day to Zimbabwe, Swaziland and even Somalia. Parties campaigned without hindrance, most of the media is in private hands and there was no intimidation of voters. "
Sounds pretty good doesn't it? Since 1994 an estmated 400,000 refugees have returned to Somaliland from camps in eastern Ethiopia. A free press, democratic government, improving services and a state doing so well that people are flocking back in droves - but no one recognises it. Why not? According to the author of the above article, Geoff Hill, it is because of the African Union.
"In 1993, [the AU] recognised the split of Ethiopia and Eritrea, but the two states are still at war with each other. In theory, this could also happen with Somalia, which is determined to retake Somaliland, but Mogadishu has no army or even a public service."
Somalia determined to retake Somaliland? Somaliland isn't interested in invading Somalia, but the aggressor nation is the one who gets the free run? Not recognising Somaliland will not stop Somalia invading it - if it ever becomes strong enough and stable enough to make the effort - but of course it will enable the AU, UN, EU and the rest to say "oh, it's an internal war and none of our business" when Somalia does eventually start bombing Somaliland towns and murdering Somaliland citizens.
Somaliland has a long way to go still, but it looks to be well on the way to becoming a rare example of a prospering, modern, democratic nation in a part of the world where that is a rare thing. Even though it doesn't receive the billions in aid that officially recognised African nations do.
We need a campaign to force Britain to officially recognise Somaliland - a democratic, free and English speaking nation.
Recognition for Somaliland now!