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Somaliland’s Search for Place

The Unofficial Republic's Struggle for Acknowledgement

Boys take part in a street parade to celebrate the 24th self-declared independence day for the breakaway Somaliland nation from Somalia in capital Hargeysa, May 18, 2015. Feisal Omar / Reuters

Last week marked the 25th anniversary of the Republic of Somaliland’s proclamation of independence. There was an enormous party in the capital city of Hargeisa, but no outside diplomats attended. In fact, not a single government has recognized the state since it broke away from Somalia in 1991, and so legally, Somaliland is still part of Somalia. As Somalilanders will tell you, however, it isn’t. The problem is that no one listens. 

Somaliland is stuck in a unique bind—the international community has pledged not to recognize the area as a state until the African Union does. The AU fears that Somalia's other breakaway states might follow suit and that this could influence other African regions to do the same. Therefore, it has refused to make the call. So Somaliland is stuck in legal limbo, but it has nevertheless found a way to persevere. Whether it can thrive depends

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