I attach copies of my letter to the President of Somaliland dated August 6, and a note by the East Africa Policy Institute, Democracy challenged in Somaliland. As I’m sure you are aware, the Somaliland government have arrested three distinguished politicians who are said to have broken the law by forming a political association, with the intention of contesting the local elections, and if they do well, of claiming to act as one of the three parties allowed by the constitution, when it comes to the general election. The government appear to be saying that the three existing parties are entitled to remain for all time as the only entities permitted to contest the local elections, and hence that no challenge can ever be made to their exclusive right to participate in the government of the country, but since no charges have been preferred against the detainees or published, the allegations have to be inferred from their statements to the media.
Ever since Somaliland broke away, following the downfall of Siad Barre, friends of the new proto-state here have pointed to the contrast between Somaliland’s maintenance of democracy, human rights and the rule of law, and the anarchy which has prevailed in Somalia. We have tried to help Somaliland towards recognition as an independent state, and I believe this should still be the goal. The obstruction of citizens who want to present a new political agenda by the use of doubtful law is bound to undermine the project, and I request you to express concern on behalf of the UK at the use of detention without charge, denial of access to legal advice, and the proposal to try the detainees in camera in a special court inside the prison. These unlawful processes have already set the cause of Somaliland’s recognition back, and if continued, must inevitably halt progress for the time being. It would be helpful if you were able to underline these points in a message to the authorities in Hargeisa.
Lord Eric Avebury