The political development of Somaliland and its conflict with Puntland


After 1991, while the major parts of Somalia descended into chaos, Somaliland has been composedly and independently running its own affairs. It is endowed with a moderately effective administration and functioning security forces, but it is facing acute socio-economic challenges. It has held relatively competitive multi-party elections even if the latest ones have been delayed until September 2009. This delay has ominously called into question its hard-won stability much of which directly flowed from a consensus-driven approach. Somaliland’s appeal for international recognition has nonetheless become illusive mainly because of the fear that it might open a Pandora’s box in Africa. Somaliland is also feeling the full brunt of Horn of Africa geopolitical jostling and is engaged in an enduring and unresolved conflict with Puntland, both laying claims over the contested region of Sool and Sanaag.

About the author

Berouk Mesfin is currently a senior researcher in charge of the Horn of Africa region with the Conflict Prevention Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, based in Addis Ababa. He has worked as a defence analyst at the Ethiopian Ministry of National Defence, where he headed the North Africa Division of the Research and Analysis Directorate; and as political adviser to the US Embassy in Ethiopia. He has also held several positions at the Addis Ababa University: assistant dean of the College of Social Sciences; lecturer in political science and international relations; and as a research associate at the Institute of Development Research and the Institute of Federal Studies. His teaching and research interests are in international relations, with special emphasis on foreign policy, civil-military relations, conflicts and terrorism in the Horn of Africa, and in comparative politics, with special emphasis on elections, political parties and federalism.

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