Speech by Jenny Sonesson Secretary-General Liberal Women of Sweden

Dear friends,

As a member of the Liberal in Sweden, I’m glad to be here today at this fantastic conference of KULMIYE. It’s always pleasant to be among friends who share the same values as you. No matter if you are in Stockholm or Hargeisa.

I would like to read a greeting to you all from one of our Swedish Liberal ministers, the Swedish Minister for European Affairs.

Greeting from Cecilia Malmstrom

Swedish Minister for European Affairs Vice President of the Liberal of Sweden Chair of the International Board of the Liberal of Sweden

I wish the KULMIYE Party of Somaliland the best of luck with your important job to build a stable and transparent democracy in one of the most dangerous and insecure areas on the African continent – the Horn of Africa.

Your task is of great importance. Not only to the people of Somaliland but also for my country Sweden and the Swedish people.

Geographical distance is of no importance in the modern world of the 21st century, when it comes to war, international terrorism, famine, climate threats or epidemics. Nor to prosperous trade and fruitful cultural exchange between stable and peaceful democracies.

The development of Africa is of global interest. The future of Africa is part of our common future – and therefore concerns us all.

Best regards,

Cecilia Malmstrom

Jenny SonessonThe very same day Rhoda and I left Sweden, in one of our biggest newspapers there was an article about the dreadful war in Somalia. According to the UN the situation there is now more alarming than in Darfur.

I have to admit I was a bit nervous on the plane. But Rhoda calmed me down. To my great relieve I have seen with my own eyes that Somaliland is different. You want peace, you want stability and you want to give your children a future. One of Rhoda’s cousins told me yesterday she feels safer here than on the streets of London.

The war in Somalia is not a new thing, it’s been going on for 17 years now. That’s sad. But it’s even sadder, the right word is probably tragic, that we can’t even guess how long the war will last and how many lives it will cost.

Somaliland’s situation resembles that of a wife who can’t get a divorce from an aggressive husband unable to pursue the possibility of rebuilding her own future.

The upcoming elections are extremely important tests for the young democracy of Somaliland. It’s easy to talk the talk of democracy. It’s much harder to walk the walk of democracy.

More than 60% of the population of this country consists of women. And people I meet tell me that women are the backbone of the economy of Somaliland. Yet you have only two elected women in the parliament and only one out of more than 300 on the local level. Numerous studies indicate that when women are involved in the decision making bodies of a society – democracy deepens, gets more stable and you have increased economic growth.

If the upcoming elections in Somaliland turn out to be free and fair and the politicians elected reflects the population in a more accurate way, it will send a strong signal to the international community that the men and women of Somaliland have chosen to walk the path of democracy.

The borders of the countries on the African continent were drawn up by colonial powers a long time ago in a very undemocratic way.

Personally, I’m convinced that the international community will not ignore a strong voice from a truly democratic Somaliland when we discuss the borders of the Horn of Africa.

I wish the people of Somaliland a bright future. The future of Somaliland is part of our common future.

Good luck KULMIYE with your important task!

Thank you

Jenny Sonesson

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