A leading Somali scholar and politician has backed Somaliland’s push for independence, arguing that there was political stagnation in Mogadishu.
Ahmed Ismail Samatar, a dean at Macalester College in the American city of Saint Paul, is adamant that a united Somalia is still ideal for the troubled region.
But following a recent trip to his native Somaliland, the academic conceded that Somaliland had a right to break away from Mogadishu.
They have demonstrated that they can govern themselves and bring a degree of peace
“Corruption and internal civil wars have become associated with the union and bad leadership,” Samatar said.
“Unless there is a new cohort of leaders and ideas that will promote and exemplify the opposite of corruption and tribalism and incompetence, then the fate of the union is sealed for the time being.
Samatar, who ran unsuccessfully for the Somali premiership in 2012 with the nationalist Hiil Qaran party, says Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud’s Somali government has failed to control the country, allowing corruption and terror to overrun its legitimacy.
Despite the international community’s continued refusal to recognise Somaliland’s independence, Samatar feels that a divided Somalia is the best political situation for the time being.
“I cannot see how a political class, that does not even have enough clout and competence to run those areas which are in its hands, will be able to extend their authority to other parts of Somalia,” he said.
“The terrorism that is flaring up across the country now seems to be the order of the future, unless something changes dramatically in Mogadishu.
“The people of Somaliland see nothing coming out of Mogadishu. And they certainly don’t want to return to the old status quo,” Samatar added.
“They have demonstrated that they can govern themselves and bring a degree of peace. I think they deserve to be recognised as a viable national entity.”
Somalia’s fledgling government received historic recognition from the United States and International Monetary Fund last year.
But this year the government has been plagued by accusations of corruption and security problems.
Terror attacks in Mogadishu, and a worsening conflict in the southern city of Kismayo, have raised alarm across the region.