Somalia: Will new Somaliland E-Passport lead to identity perplexity?


Although Somaliland failed to gain international recognition, it defiantly continues to throw citizens desperate for a state detached from Somalia into new perplexity. In my column, I would like to briefly shed light on the practical implications of Somaliland’s electronic passport and only way forward for a region that has been seeking independence for more than two decades.

On September 10, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud Siilaanyo alongside a handful of high ranking government officials moved into immigration and citizenship department complex in Somaliland capital of Hargeisa from where he took his first Somaliland E-Passport.

Much to my surprise, the issuance of identification document like passport is not new to Somaliland people as the separatist administration printed a self-styled passport in 1996 but now it says they complied with strict international laws to pave the way for fraud-resistant and more secure passport.

Chuckle!!! If new travel documents led to progress in recognition front, Somaliland would remain as independent state within Africa by now. However, Somaliland is still testing its ability to dwindle public frustration and remind the thirsty recognition-seeking people of roadblocks ahead for the grand dream.

According to article 7  of Provisional Federal Constitution which was adopted in August 2012 in Mogadishu, Somalia boundaries wedge between the Indian Ocean to the east and Ethiopia to the west, therefore Somaliland is evidently part of Somalia: “The boundaries of the Federal Republic of Somalia shall be those described in the 1960 Constitution of Somalia,” Somalia Constitution states.

Hundreds if not thousands in the banned right-hand drive vehicles, Toyota Noah flock into Puntland capital of Garowe from Hargeisa daily to acquire Somalia’s biometric passport, with applicants overwhelming local authorities headquarters and Criminal Investigation Department building with certificates of birth and requests for identification cards.

Of course yes, we regard residents in northwestern Somalia ‘Somalis’ but in turn they should be proud of their identity and heed our myriad love for them.

Needless to say, it is lawful to have Somali passport along with foreign one in the hand on Somalia soil.I have not written this piece in favor of recognized Somaliland and no dual citizenship trouble without taking Somaliland passport into account is expected in the near future as enshrined in the constitution:” A person who is a Somali citizen cannot be deprived of Somali citizenship, even if they become a citizen of another country,” Article 8 stresses.

Despite the fact that the launching of new E-Passport by Somaliland authorities could be an engine for other much-needed efforts, the separatist administration needs to take straightforward and quick steps towards reunification and weigh options over return to 1960 amalgamation.

President Siilaayo once again boasted about tremendous commitment to African’s newest state in the horn while addressing media members at immigration and citizenship department in Hargeisa last week, so how long can he keep saying Somaliland would be a separate entity? Aspirations and will of Somaliland people are adamant as of now, as of tomorrow and as of after tomorrow!!!

Moreover, People in Somaliland are fed up with polarizing politics and keen on more robust agendas that would put the visible demand into practice, even if the possibility of making dreams real doesn’t earn momentum very soon.

Abdirashid M. Dahir, in Garowe has contributed to this opinion piece-Follow him on twitter @puntsom. 

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