33 years have passed since Somaliland reclaimed its independence from Somalia

May is one of the most important months for Somaliland, it is the month when Somaliland regained its independence from Somalia. Historically Somaliland’s independence goes back to June 26th 1960 when the nation gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

The celebration of this event is expected to be attended by millions of people living in Somaliland and hundreds of thousands of Diaspora living abroad. On this day, Somalilanders are sharing their joy. The days goes back to 1991 on May 18, when the Burao conference was held and marked a turning point in Somaliland’s history. As I mentioned in my article Somaliland’s 30 anniversary the Buroa conference brought together representatives from all communities and regions of Somaliland. After a long and extensive consultation, one of the most important outcomes of the conference was the decision to reclaim the statehood of Somaliland on the 18th May 1991.
You may ask yourself a lot of questions about what prompted Somaliland to regain its sovereignty from Somalia and the different historical processes that Somaliland has gone through to reach where it is today. In this brief article, the purpose is not to mention in detail the Somaliland historical past and especially the struggle that finally led to the citizens of Somaliland regaining their freedom. If you need more information about this you may want to refer, for this, to my article on the 30th Anniversary (Somaliland-30th-anniversary-2021-pdf-new.pdf (horndiplomat.com).

What does it mean for Somalilanders to celebrate for their 33rd anniversary this week?
This year’s 18th May celebration kicked off early in Somaliland and the Diaspora communities. On May 18th, Somaliland will present in the capital of Hargeisa along with other cities and towns in the country parades intended to celebrate Somaliland’s 33rd anniversary. These parades are well-planned and involve the national army, Government officials, students and all other sections of the societies.
It is usually a day when the president of Somaliland, other heads of political parties and public officials attend and share with their people the atmosphere of celebration and commemoration of the history of Somaliland. It is also a day to commemorate the sacrifices that were made to achieve freedom, security and stability that the people of Somaliland feel today. It is a day for the people of Somaliland to reflect on the many progress made by the country since 1991.
The celebration of this day is not limited to the memories and commemoration of the history of Somaliland but it is also a day for the people of Somaliland to remind themselves of the importance of Somalilanders to dedicate themselves to defend the country’s freedom and sovereignty achieved at a great cost. The 18th May is a day to remember the achievements and challenges of the past 33 years. It is not only about what happened yesterday and today, but it is also a day that provides an opportunity to look to the future and legacy that is waiting for future generations.
On this day, Somalilanders remind themselves that the people of Somaliland are the ones who are currently running their government and are fully responsible for how they want to shape the future of their country without being forced to ask anyone else how on how to govern themselves.
Although Somaliland has not been recognized by the international community as a sovereign country since 1991, there are many reasons why the people of Somaliland should celebrate this day warmly. Somaliland has achieved a lot of progress in terms of security and improving people’s lives. Somaliland is truly a shining light from the Horn of Africa and the progress made by the country is a lesson for the countries in the region.
On this day, Somalilanders remember all the positive things that have been achieved during the last 33 years. Five presidents have transferred peacefully Somaliland’s power to each other since 1991. Each president’s contribution during his reign is respected and appreciated by the people of Somaliland. The historical documents and other articles related to Somaliland’s journey since 1991 have detailed what the successive presidents of Somaliland have achieved while in power. In this article, we briefly mention what these five presidents have achieved despite the challenges and difficult times they have gone through.
The current president and the presidents who came before him in succession to the rule of Somaliland have carried out some memorable achievements. We all know that a lot of time and resources have been sacrificed for Somaliland to become a safe and stable country, where law and order are functioning well. We have all witnessed that in the last three decades, Somaliland has achieved many positive things despite the challenges and difficulties faced by the people of Somaliland.
The people of Somaliland are proud that the country has its constitution, a functioning government for the last 33 years headed by the president and vice president, Parliament (Lower house and house of elders), creation of other government institutions, military and police force, passport, flag, political parties, competing national and local elections since 2003. Despite all these achievements, Somaliland does not have recognition. We are celebrating this year again as we are still optimistic that Somaliland one day will be a member of the United Nations.

Honouring Somaliland’s flag for the event on this anniversary
In general, the people of Somaliland always show the value of the national flag and its importance for the existence of Somaliland. The flag of Somaliland is greatly appreciated by the people of Somaliland on the 18th May. It is a day when people show their respect for the national flag. It is also a day when Somaliland people wear the flag of Somaliland showing how the flag is important to them. On the 18th May, many Somaliland people decorate their homes and cars with the Somaliland flag. It is a feeling that reflects how people are proud of their beautiful flag. School children on this day wave Somaliland flags, as part of Somaliland’s 33 Anniversary.
The celebration of this 33rd anniversary, the flag of Somaliland is more visible than the previous anniversary. In the markets and gathering places in Somaliland, you can see hundreds and thousands of people from Somaliland wearing the flag of Somaliland. This shows that the celebration of this year is very strong and it is a clear example of how the people of Somaliland are proud of the existence of their country.

This year’s celebration is unique and stronger than the previous ones.
This year’s celebration is bigger than previous years as mentioned by the national committee that coordinates the event on the 18th May. This year, the 18th May has special significance for many reasons. The year we passed in 2023 was a year with many challenges including the Lasanod conflict which was organised by external forces. The purpose of that deliberate attack on Somaliland was to damage the existence of Somaliland. It is also certain that the enemy of Somaliland always wants to undermine the country’s success and progress in terms of economy and diplomacy.
The people of Somaliland, both government and citizens, are using this year’s celebration to strengthen the unity of the Somaliland people and also to maintain the security and stability of the country. This year’s celebration has a special value for all Somaliland people regardless of their age, gender etc.
The celebration on May 18 of this year coincided with the schedule of the Somaliland presidential election to be held on November 13, 2024. With this anniversary, it is also important to mention that the Republic of Somaliland has announced that over 1.2 million registered voters are ready to participate in the upcoming elections on November 13th, 2024. It is an election that has been delayed for two years after President Bihi was given a two-year extension due to the war in the Sool region.
It is good news that President Muse Bihi has issued a presidential decree stating that the election for the presidency in which the three national parties of Kulmiye, Waddani and Ucid are competing for the elections will take place on November 13, 2024. It is also great news that the election commission officially announced the list of voters. This election is also a combined election in which the three national parties and political organisations will also compete in the three national parties for the next ten years representing Somaliland’s political arena. On this anniversary day, the people of Somaliland are reminding themselves to work together to ensure that the election is held in a fair and free environment.
Another important issue that the people of Somaliland have high hopes for this anniversary of the 18th May is the MOU agreement which is currently in its final stage. With this agreement, it is hoped that Somaliland will receive full diplomatic recognition from the Federal Government of Ethiopia, while Somaliland has allowed Ethiopia to establish a naval base in the Red Sea. As mentioned by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland Dr. Essa Keyd and the chairman of the committee (MOU on the Somaliland side) Bashe Awil, both mentioned that the agreement is expected to be signed by Ethiopia and Somaliland will soon come into effect.
This historic agreement will be beneficial for both parties and the region as a whole. It is an agreement that is expected to open new doors that will lead both countries to a bright and prosperous future. With this 33rd anniversary, the people of Somaliland are celebrating by welcoming this agreement which of course opens a new future for the two countries. There is no doubt that the harmony, development and economic integration of the region will grow and become stronger.

The benefit of the MOU agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia is not limited to these two countries, but it is also a strategic agreement for Western countries and it is important for them to support this agreement. We are aware that other powerful countries are competing in the Red Sea, such as China, which now has a base in Djibouti. If Western countries do not immediately support this agreement, there will certainly be a threat to Somaliland from other major countries such as China and other big powers that are interested in the Red Sea region to influence Somaliland and establish a base in Somaliland like Djibouti.

Young people and the celebration of 18th May
Somaliland youth play an important and visible role in the 18th May celebration. It can be said that Somaliland’s young people are always the backbone of the celebration of this day. Their celebration does not start on the day itself, but a few days before if not weeks. They express their emotions and happiness to welcome the day. They show their celebration in different ways. Young people gather on streets and important places of big cities singing national songs.
Every young person you see is wearing flag bracelets. This shows of how young people believe in and love their country and also aspire that international recognition will be achieved shortly. Some of them perform traditional dancing and sports activities to share happiness with their community, friends and other Somaliland people. During the 18th celebration week Somaliland artists mainly young people create lots of amazing songs with beautiful voices and music.
Also, young students in all schools in Somaliland, boys and girls, are actively participating in the anniversary celebrations on the 18th May. When you look at the dedication and inspiration of the Somaliland youth, you feel that there is a bright future for the country.
One of the characteristics of Somaliland youth is that they truly love their country and believe in patriotism. There is no doubt that the younger generation of Somaliland today sees themselves as the beneficiaries of the sacrifices made by the generation before them. Although there are challenges and difficulties faced by the youth of Somaliland, we hope that the future generations can live in better life, freedom and system based on openness and democracy.

I am sharing a word of advice with young people: The political competition in Somaliland today seems to be tearing apart the young people. The young generation themselves need to be more vigilant about the things that harm the future of their country and be the ones who pull themselves together and keep the unity of their community.

The enthusiasm to welcome the 18th May is not confined to Somaliland, but thousands of Somaliland Diaspora living in other countries of the world are also widely participating in the celebration. Although Somaliland’s Diaspora lives in different countries, they share the same feeling in welcoming the event of the 18th May. As they do every year, Somaliland Diaspora living in European capitals, North America, and Arab and African countries are organizing programs to celebrate Somaliland’s 33rd anniversary. Various programs such as rallies, conferences, music events and other entertainment programs to welcome the day of May 18th are among the programs organized by Somalilanders living abroad.
The Somaliland Diaspora worldwide actively engages in how other countries of the world would recognize Somaliland. The Diaspora is constantly looking for opportunities in the countries where they live to promote what Somaliland has achieved in the last 33 years.
Somaliland missions in foreign countries are also preparing receptions to invite speakers and other guests including parliamentarians, diplomats, academics etc.

In conclusion, without recognition, Somaliland has proven for 33 years to serve its people with a system of law and order and a functioning state. On the other hand, the international community focused more and also spent a lot of time and resources to establish a functioning central Government in Somalia, but no results have been achieved so far.
The international community and Somalia need to understand that the peace and development of the region depends on Somalia to recognize Somaliland’s sovereignty. Somalia must accept the reality on the ground. Somaliland has had its state for the last 33 years. It is in the interest of both countries and the wider region that Somaliland is offered the recognition they have been waiting for the last three decades.
Finally, it is important to be aware that the people of Somaliland are resilient. The long journey they took to rebuild the country was not an easy task. To overcome the challenges and difficulties they faced, they managed through unity and cooperation among the communities in the country.
No country is perfect. We still have many problems including tribalism. Many other challenges are waiting for us, including the elections that the president of Somaliland announced to be held on 13th November 2024. There is also the fact that Somaliland’s enemies have recently been interfering with the boundaries of Somaliland. We all hope to rededicate ourselves to strengthen the aspirations of Somaliland which is to be a free, united, peaceful and prosperous nation. The challenges that Somaliland is facing can only be overcome through understanding and unity among the Somaliland communities.

Abdirahman Abdillahi Jibril (Awliyo)
Email: jabdi35@yahoo.com

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