Friday, November 30, 2007

ELDR’s Conditional Recognition Call for Somaliland


HE. Dahir Rayaal Kahin

The President of the Republic of Somaliland
Hargeisa, Somaliland

Brussels, 27 November

Dear Mr. President,

The Congress of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) adopted a resolution that calls upon the European Union and all of its Member States to give diplomatic recognition to the Republic of Somaliland and actively encourages the African Union to accept that Somaliland is not a secessionist state but rather a democratic entity that has abrogated a union with a failed State.

However, our call is conditioned by the existence of a government that respects human rights, a free market, and democracy, with a free press and the possibility of democratic changes of government.In a region of the world where these qualities are in short supply, your country is a beacon of democracy.

Therefore ELDR was alarmed to read of the arrests of Dr Mohamed Abdi Gaboose, Engineer Mohamed Hashi and Mr Jamal Aideed on July 28. These three gentlemen were architects of Somaliland’s freedom, and are surely entitled to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of expression and of association, and the right to take part in the government of their country, which are found in Articles 19-21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Whilst the constitution of Somaliland provides that there shall be only three political parties, there is no law that I am aware of which says that the current three parties will always be the three accepted under the constitution. The constitution like all others also guarantees the right of association and the persons who have been arrested are arguing that they are simply exercising their rights to form a political association and to be given a chance to compete freely to become one of the three political parties allowed under the constitution.

May I respectfully urge you to release the three gentlemen, and to convene a representative assembly to determine how to secure maximum popular participation at the forthcoming elections, by a process that would determine which three parties have the greatest support and whose candidates’ names should therefore appear on the ballot papers? I need hardly emphasise the damage to the cause of Somaliland’s recognition that will result from failure toresolve this problem by discussion and agreement, rather than arbitrary detentions.

In the longer term, Somaliland may wish to consider whether it is necessary to place any constitutional limit on the number of parties. In many democratic countries the citizens tend to elect just a few parties, though others may put up candidates without harming the democratic process.

Yours sincerely,
Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP,
President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party

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