Wales

Cardiff Somalilanders mark country's independence

Somali women
Image caption Cardiff's Somali community is one of Wales' oldest minority ethnic groups

Members of Cardiff's Somali community have marked the 50th anniversary of Somaliland's independence from the UK.

The Somali Integration Society (SIS) said the event at the city's Temple of Peace was to mark the move "in the direction of prosperity and peace".

Many of the estimated 7,000 Somalis in Wales originate from Somaliland.

SIS co-ordinator Ibrahim Harbi said: "Usually you don't associate that kind of democracy with that part of the world."

Somaliland is a breakaway, semi-desert territory on the coast of the Gulf of Aden.

It was independent for a few days in 1960, between the end of British colonial rule and its union with the former Italian colony of Somalia.

It declared its independence from Somalia in May 1991 and has been searching for recognition in vain since then.

Although not internationally recognised, Somaliland has a political system, government institutions, a police force and its own currency.

In the past few days, the opposition presidential candidate Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo has been declared the winner of elections that have been praised for their conduct by observers.

'Unique country'

Image caption Somaliland declared independence after the overthrow of Somali military dictator Siad Barre in 1991

Saturday's event in Cathays Park included a video on Somaliland, a talk by Yasiin Hagi Mahmoud and a group discussion.

Mr Harbi said: "Somaliland is such a unique country and it deserves the recognition of the international community.

"[The election] has proved the maturity of the people of Somaliland who, without any assistance from the international community, have shown they can solve their problems peacefully."

Cardiff's Somali community is one of the oldest ethnic groups in the city.

Their ancestors were originally drawn as seafarers at the end of the 19th Century - shortly after the opening of the Suez Canal - to work in the city's docks.

The Somali community in Cardiff was swelled further in the 1980s by people who arrived fleeing civil war.

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