Monday, May 22, 2006

Somaliland: where peace and democracy make no headlines
Bashir Goth
Mention Somalia and images of famine, warlords, fratricide and Black Hawk Down will jump to one's mind. The country barely exists on the world map let alone the world agenda. Since the last central government was forced out of power more than 15 years ago, the people have been hijacked by hordes of warlords who prospered by robbing and looting international food aid meant for the millions of internally displaced and famished civilians, mostly women, children and elderly.

These thugs-turned warlords have foiled every attempt by the international community to restore peace and normalcy to the country. It is no wonder that the people of Mogadishu have come to view the equally cruel and more barbaric Islamic courts, pushing the establishment of a Taliban-like Islamic state in Somalia, as the lesser of the two evils. Tired and exhausted of 15 years of war, coercion, and being forced to flee from war zone to war zone in search of a safe place to rest, people saw the draconian rules imposed by the Islamic courts as an exceptional remedy to an exceptional situation where the bare existence of human beings let alone human dignity has come under constant threat. Just like Taliban had restored a semblance of peace and stability in Afghanistan, the Mogadishu Islamic courts have by the implementation of their strict brand of Islam brought an end to banditry and coercion and restored a peace of sorts in the areas under their control. Who cares if women are kept under the wrap, if limbs of poor burglars are chopped in public, if murderers are tied to trees and teenage children of slain victims are given the sword to hack their bodies in public squares! Well, dire circumstances call for dire and absurd methods of treatment, one may say. Only one who lived 15 years in a state of anarchy will understand why absurd and inhumane institutions like the Islamic courts look like the guardians of Eden in Mogadishu.

Compare this macabre situation with the story of Somaliland, the former British Somaliland Protectorate, which had, after gaining its independence on 26 June 1960, united with Italian Somalia in the South and formed with it the Somali Republic. Somaliland, which had reclaimed its sovereignty and abandoned the union on 18 May 1991 after the collapse of the central Somali government, had not only spared itself the apocalyptic status in Italian Somalia but has over the last 15 years restored peace and stability and embarked on a marvelous journey of building the country's executive, legislative and judicial institutions on a unique home-grown amalgam of time-tested traditional systems and western democracy.
Read more on Awdalnews,also Khaleej Times, Wardheernews,