There was an interesting piece in Saturday's Guardian about recent, disappointing developments in Somaliland. I've written to both David Miliband and Douglas Alexander about the situation there, asking what if anything the UK can do to help resolve things. I've had to stand down as Secretary of the All-Party Group on Somaliland since becoming a whip, but have still been following the situation very closely; the case for recognition is very much founded on Somaliland having been a stable, peaceful country since the civil war of 1991 and having staged successful, democratic local, presidential and parliamentary elections in recent years. What is missing in the Guardian piece, however, is any appreciation that it would be problematic for a country such as Britain, the former colonial power, to be the first to recognise Somaliland. It's something that we - members of the APPG - have told Somaliland politicians and members of the diaspora on many an occasion, and they have, by and large, agreed with our analysis. The ideal solution would be for the African Union - or at least one African state - to step up to the plate, and other countries to then follow their lead.
The piece implies that Britain is at best indifferent to the issue, which is far from being the case. Lord Malloch-Brown met with members of the Somaliland cabinet and President Riyale when he was still Minister for Africa, and Kim Howells, visited Somaliland when he was a Foreign Office minister. David Miliband specifically asked to meet members of the Somali community, the majority of whom hail from Somaliland, when he visited the Cardiff constituency of Alun Michael, the chair of the All-Party group. I'm sure the Foreign Office and DFID are doing all they can and providing whatever assistance is necessary to get Somaliland back on track.