Africa’s unrecognised territories 

Across the continent of Africa, there are several unrecognised states which have declared independence from the countries in which they are legally situated. Some unrecognised territories have recently declared independence; others have been an unrecognised state for several decades.

WHAT IS AN UNRECOGNISED STATE?

An unrecognised state is a region or territory which is not internationally acknowledged as having a legal status. Although these unrecognised territories may receive diplomatic recognition from certain states, they are not seen as legitimate countries on an international level, and cannot operate as fully recognised states with regards to international trade, negotiation and agreements.

WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF UNRECOGNISED STATES IN AFRICA?

Unrecognised territories in Africa include:

  • the Republic of Logone, internationally recognised as part of northern Central African Republic;
  • the Republic of Somaliland, internationally recognised as part of northern Somalia;
  • the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, internationally recognised as part of west Cameroon.

WHEN DID THESE UNRECOGNISED TERRITORIES DECLARE INDEPENDENCE?

For the Republic of Logone and the Federal Republic of Ambazonia, independence was declared very recently, with the former having proclaimed itself independent on 1st October 2017, and the latter doing so on 14th December 2015. The Republic of Somaliland, however, declared itself independent almost three decades ago, on 18th May 1991.

WHY DID THESE UNRECOGNISED TERRITORIES DECLARE INDEPENDENCE?

  • Ambazonia: When the territory of Southern Cameroon was about to become independent from the British empire in 1961, a referendum was held on whether to join the newly independent state of Nigeria, or to French-speaking Cameroon. The referendum decided in favour of joining Cameroon, as it was believed that Southern Cameroon would have significant political power to run itself as a federal province (self-governing). However, Cameroon became a unitary state (state with centralised power), and as a result Southern Cameroonians had much less political autonomy than they wished. After decades of feeling politically powerless, Southern Cameroonians declared themselves independent from Cameroon.
  • Somaliland: Similar to Ambazonia, Somaliland was also part of the British Empire. On becoming independent, the territory joined the state of Somalia on 1st July 1960, although this was not supported by many Somalilanders. After crackdowns on nationalists by premier (political leader) Siad Barre in 1988, the divisions between nationalist Somalilanders and the Somali government culminated in the Somali civil war. After Siad Barre’s regime fell in 1991, the republic of Somaliland was declared independent.
  • Logone: In March 2013, Christian president Francois Bozizé was removed from power by Muslim Seleka rebels. This led to extreme violence between Christian militias and the Muslim Seleka rebels, and the conclusion that the two religious groups could no longer peacefully coexist. As a result, the republic of Logone was declared by the Muslim Seleka rebels.

HANA RAJABALLY

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