Friday, January 17, 2003

NAIROBI, 17 JAN 2003 (IRIN) - The year 2002 ended as it began, with Somalia still mired in conflict, insecurity and instability. Even areas which were hitherto relatively peaceful and stable, such as Baidoa in the south and Puntland in the northeast, became caught up in the violence. This created an acute humanitarian situation in some parts of the country.

The self-declared republic of Somaliland has been the exception to the violence which swept through Somalia in 2002. Despite the death of its president, Muhammad Ibrahim Egal, in May, Somaliland confounded all the sceptics who claimed that "Egal was the glue" that held it together. To the contrary, there was a smooth transition, with Egal's vice-president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, taking over without much fanfare. Somaliland has remained a haven of stability in a country convulsed by instability and insecurity. It capped the year with local elections, which by all accounts went smoothly. Somaliland is due to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in March 2003.

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