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Publication Detail
State building in the Somali Horn: compromise, competition and representation
Abstract
The achievements of successive Somaliland governments in building legitimacy and conducting elections have attracted widespread praise. While the near future will present substantial challenges to the durability of past successes, a close analysis shows that Somaliland offers a great many useful lessons about how to build a Somali nation state. An established, discursive system of consensus-based political participation is as important as democratisation through elections. This system is inevitably imperfect, but it has played a key role in securing broad, though qualified, acceptance of state institutions. A resurgence of optimism in southern Somalia has diverted attention from more sustained, if less spectacular, political accommodations negotiated in Somaliland and elsewhere in the Somali Horn of Africa. Mundane lessons learned in these territories have once again been relegated to the margins. International participants and elite partners in Mogadishu, Nairobi, Washington and London are absorbed by Somali realpolitik and the apparent progress of a grand technocratic exercise in state-building. It is imperative that those wishing to support continued political development in Somaliland and the region pay greater heed to the historical and cultural context in which it is occurring.
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