Somaliland: A Land in Limbo

Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, is Africa's only fully unrecognized country. After breaking away from Somalia and claiming independence in 1991, the Somaliland government, in stark contrast to the failed state of Somalia, has constructed many facets of a functioning, stable state. Somaliland has carried out several Presidential elections and peaceful transfers of power.

New elections were scheduled for April 2008 and have since been postponed five times, leaving the current President without constitutional power and the loss of a loyal opposition, which now sees the President falling back on the more authoritarian ways of the past, which Somaliland fought long and hard to separate itself from during the reign of Somali dictator, Said Barre.

This project reports on the current situation in Somaliland, investigating the social and political consequences of not realizing the promised elections and the affect this will have on Somaliland's quest for international recognition and the general stability of the Horn of Africa region.

Somaliland: A Land In Limbo

Photojournalist Narayan Mahon has been working on an ongoing project called Lands In Limbo to document the state of what he calls "unrecognized countries."

The Invisible Country

As we sped through the dusty heat of rural Somaliland on one of the region's few paved roads, an armed escort behind us and the hills of Ethiopia ahead, Dr. Adan Abokor told me his story. Abokor is sixty-two years old with thinning, gray hair, and his steady, measured voice can mask his emotions, but his energy is undiminished, and his memories of 1982 are still raw. "I was a member of the Hargeisa Group," he began.

Somaliland's Perplexing Limbo

This month in a country that doesn't exist an election is due to be held to choose a government that will not be recognized. This is not a hypothetical puzzle, it is the actual state of Somaliland.

Somalia is the world's most glaring example of a failed state: For the past 18 years Somalia has not had a functioning government and has been marked by widespread violence and chaos.

Somaliland: A report from the field

On June 4th Narayan Mahon and Tristan McConnell arrived in Somaliland to begin reporting from this unrecognized breakaway region of Somalia. Tristan McConnel introduces the reporting project from the city of Hargeisa in the northwestern region of Somaliland.