IN PURSUANCE of the resolutions of the Conference of the Somaliland Communities held in Burao on 27th April to 5th May 1991, which reaffirmed (our) independence with effect from 18th May 1991;

NOTING that the Conference of the Elders of the Somaliland Communities held in Borama from 24th January to 25th May 1993 adopted a National Charter[1] which:

  • laid down that a national constitution which will replace the national charter be prepared and consulted upon within a year; (and)
  • set out clearly the constitutional principles and the governmental structures, confident in their communities’ inalienable right to decide their destiny;

HAVING experienced the direconsequences of the application of a constitution not grounded on the nation’s beliefs, culture and aspirations, as was the case for a period of thirty years[2];

HAVING experienced the devastation wrought by a regime based on dictatorship and a policy of divide and ruleto which the country was subjected for over twenty years, and ever vigilant of the return of such a regime;

REMEMBERING the series of struggles waged by the people, such as that of the “Darawiish”[3], religious leaders and political parties;

MINDFUL of the vigorous campaign led by the patriotic organisation, the SNM[4], which culminated in the reassertion of (our) independence which was achieved through sacrifice of life and property so that the nation can enjoy a governmental system which meets its needs;

DESIROUS of a state which fulfils the aspirations of the nation, and is thereby appreciated by all, and which is founded on equality and justice;

RECOGNISING that lasting stability and peace can be achieved through a synergy between the economic system and the aspirations of the nation;

CONFIDENT that the Somaliland nation is a family that has everything in common, such as religion, culture, customs and language; and whose members are no different from each other and are ready to build together a state in which everyone has equal status;

AWARE that the preparation of the Constitution has gone through various stages and committees, such as the Constitution Working Party which was enjoined by the third Grand Conference on 26th November 1996[5] to sift through the two draft versions of the Constitution; and more recently, the corrections and amendments made by the two Houses of Parliament on 30th April 2000; and that the Constitution was based on the following issues:

  • The Islamic Sharia.
  • Conclusions from the various consultations.
  • The separation of the powers of the state as between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary.
  • The decentralisation of the administration of the government.
  • Guarantees of private property rights and the protection of the free market.
  • Sanctity of human life through the entrenchment of fundamental rights and individual freedoms.
  • Peaceful and proper co-existence with the states in the region and world wide;

HAVING thoroughly considered the spirit and words of the preamble and the rest of the Constitution;

The people of Somaliland hereby approve and proclaim to the whole world on this 31st May, 2001[6], that this constitution has been adopted as the nation’s Constitution.


[1] The National Charter (Axdiga Qarameed) was formally signed on 3rd May 1993 at the Borama Grand Conference of the Somaliland Communities which was attended by a constituent assembly of 150 voting delegates representing all the Somaliland communities. It consisted of a preamble and 31 Articles. It was indeed a Constitution, though not in name, and having reconfirmed the independence of Somaliland and its characteristics, such as area, flag, emblem etc, it set out the rights and freedoms of individuals (Part 3); the institutions of the State (a House of Elders, a House of Representatives, both consisting of 75 members each); a Government consisting of the President, Vice-President and Ministers; and an independent Judiciary (in Part 5). Article 5 of the Charter made it clear that the Charter shall be in force for only two years beginning from the date of its signature and shall be replaced by a Constitution, which will be endorsed through a referendum. As it was not possible to draft a constitution during the first two year period, the House of Elders extended in September 1995 the period of the Charter and the term of then President (who was elected at Borama Conference) for a year and half. The Charter remained in force until early 1997 when it was replaced by an interim Constitution which was adopted at the Hargeisa Grand Conference. This conference which took place between October 1996 and February 1997 was attended by a constituent assembly of 315 voting delegates representing all the Somaliland communities and also undertook the presidential elections, as well, in the same way as the 1993 Conference. This time the President was elected for a term of five years (from February 1997), the term set out in the new Interim Constitution. The Conference also selected the 164 members of the two Houses – this was the number set out in the Interim Constitution and was 14 more than the total members set in the National Charter (Article 10 & 11).

[2] This refers to the period of Siyad Barre’s military dictatorship which lasted from October 1969 to May 1991. Siyad Barre re-named the democratic Somali Republic by calling it the “Somali Democratic Republic”, no doubt, in line with the other “Democratic” Republics of East Germany, North Korea etc. In 1979 he introduced a 114 Article Constitution, which concentrated all the power in the hands of the President, Siyad Barre.

[3] Known in English as “Dervishes”, this phrase refers to the struggles waged by the followers of Sayid Mohammad Abdille Hassan against the British in Somaliland from 1900 - 1921. The reference to his followers in this Constitution signifies more the struggle against a colonial power rather than the Sayid’s murderous treatment of the majority of the Somaliland people.

[4] The Somali National Movement

[5] This refers to the Grand Conference of the Somaliland Communities at Hargeisa in 1996/97, which, as stated in the beginning of the Preamble was preceded by the Burao and the Borama Conferences. The Conference was attended by 335 delegates and lasted for 132 days. Two drafts of the Interim Constitution were debated and considered, and a 15 member Committee chaired by Sheikh Abdillahi Sheikh Ali Jowhar was set up to consider all the proposed versions. The Conference, which was acting as a constituent assembly representing all the Somaliland communities adopted an interim Constitution consisting of 156 Articles, which replaced the National Charter adopted at the Borama 1993 Grand Conference. The Interim Constitution was revised in 2000 when the two Houses amended it by a resolution at a joint meeting on 30 April 2000 – see also the footnotes relating to Article 130.

[6] In a referendum held on that date, the Somaliland people endorsed this Constitution