The Emergence of a Somali State: Building Peace from Civil War in Somaliland

M. Walls
2009 African Affairs  
At a time when Somalia is widely viewed as a political and humanitarian disaster, it is significant that the north-western territory of Somaliland has installed a comparatively stable government and held a series of elections that have been declared 'relatively free and fair' by observers. This article considers a key period in the establishment of the current system of state, from the 1991 collapse of the Siyaad Barre regime to the 1993 conference in the northern town of Borama which saw the
more » ... ansition from an interim military government to civilian administration. While the Borama conference did not end conflict in Somaliland, it resulted in an interim constitution that eventually enabled a more lasting peace, along with popular elections for local government, President, and Lower House of Parliament. The article argues that the success of the 1991-3 process was built on a set of deeply embedded social norms that emphasized the importance of dialogue between antagonists; a willingness to accept that the most complex grievances would be set aside indefinitely to avoid the contentious process of negotiating compensation payments; the opening of space for the intervention of mediators; and a sustained commitment to consensus building in preference to divisive voting. In short, local resources have been employed effectively in the cause of achieving a lasting peace and what appears to be a viable system of democracy.
doi:10.1093/afraf/adp019 fatcat:vxwztug3vbf7xplqqdafxaigom