Cardiff Council agreed to recognise Somaliland as a sovereign state at a meeting in City Hall in March
By Philip Dewey
Members of the Somali community in Cardiff have criticised a motion by Cardiff Council to recognise Somaliland as a sovereign state.
The council passed a motion in March to call on the UK Government and Welsh Government to recognise the region as an independent state.
However, some groups of expatriates have spoken out against the council’s motion which they claim could threaten cohesion between Somalian communities.
‘Interfering in Somalian politics’
Said Dualeh, from Cardiff Bay, originated from northern Somalia and believes Cardiff Council are interfering in politics they “don’t understand”.
He said: “We were expecting Cardiff Council to be doing the jobs we have elected them to do which is to work for the local Somalian people in Cardiff, regardless of where they come from in Somalia.
“It’s a motion which is interfering in Somalian politics to the detriment of Somalian people in Cardiff, which is disappointing to say the least.
“They’re affecting harmony amongst Somalian people in this country.”
Somaliland is a self-declared independent state stemming from the British Empire.
Internationally it is recognised as an autonomous part of Somalia.
Cardiff is the second local authority in the UK to recognise the Republic of Somaliland, after a decision by Sheffield Council.
Following the motion being passed by the council, members of the Somaliland community celebrated outside City Hall with dancing and cheering.
Another member of the Somalian community, who wished to remain anonymous said: “The motion is outrageous, if a small council in Somalia wanted to recognise Scotland as an independent state it would not be a friendly action towards the UK, and we view this in a similar way.
“The Somali community in Cardiff has many problems because of huge cuts, youth centres are being shut down and university is becoming inaccessible because of inequality.
“Councillors are supposed to be addressing issues like these.”
‘One small step at a time’
Labour councillor Lynda Thorne, who proposed the motion, said she understood the differences in opinion but her reason for supporting the motion went back a long way.
She said: “A cross-party group visited Somaliland eight years ago and came up with a report which praised Somaliland and those who had introduced democracy in the country.
“The motion was on the basis of sustaining democracy and in terms of helping Somaliland be recognised by the United Nations and to bring more investment, jobs, and prosperity there and to the rest of Somalia.
“I don’t think we’re meddling, it’s about providing support to a large community in Cardiff.
“It could be said as a council we have no power to recognise Somaliland but we’re trying to help that community get support from the United Nations and the UK Government, one small step at a time.”