Brussels, 27 November 2007
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 to
resolve 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.
Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP,
President of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party
Brussels, 27 November 2007Javier Solana
High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy,
Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union
Rue de Ia Loi, 175
Dear High Representative,
The European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR) is very concerned about the situation in Somaliland. Our Party Congress adopted a resolution on this issue which 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.Somaliland’s current political system and its leadership are failing to meet the minimum standards expected of a free and democratic State. Neither does the Somaliland government respect international and human rights laws such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Last summer the Somaliland governmen arrested Mohamed Abdi “Gabose”, Mohamed Hashi Elmi and Jamal Aide 3d, three leaders of an emergent opposition party, in the Somaliland capital of Hargeisa on 28 July. They are respectively the chairperson, the vice-chairperson and the second vice- chairperson of the Qaran party (‘The Nation”), which is currently not legafly registered but has begun informal political activities in advance of the local elections expected to be held in December 2007. Amnesty International has called for the immediate and unconditional release of these three men.
Ever since Somaliland broke away, following the downfall of Siad Barre, friends of the new proto-state 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. They 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 European Union 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.
Yours sincerely,Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck MEP
President of the ELDR Party