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Somaliland (Elections)

Volume 501: debated on Wednesday 2 December 2009

6. What support his Department is giving to the authorities in Somaliland to assist in arrangements for elections. (303270)

The United Kingdom, together with Sweden and Switzerland, is funding independent electoral experts to enable them to support the Somaliland national electoral commission. We will continue to urge the authorities in Somaliland to hold elections as soon as possible, once arrangements for them can be completed.

I am sure my hon. Friend shares my satisfaction that progress is now being made towards holding effective presidential elections. Does he agree that whoever wins, it will be important to work further in developing parliamentary and democratic institutions in Somaliland, and will he and his Department help that progress following the presidential elections?

I agree that whoever wins will need to continue to work with the international community and the people of Somaliland to improve governance there. We will certainly play our part if successful elections take place. We could provide further support to help to develop the economy of Somaliland, to improve access to basic services, and to address the root causes of the instability of which my right hon. Friend will be only too aware. [Interruption.]

Order. There are still far too many private conversations taking place on both sides of the Chamber. It is very unfair to the hon. Member who is asking a question, and to the Minister who is answering it. The House needs to come to order.

Is not one of the greatest investments that this country can make in many developing countries, including Somaliland, the establishment of good governance and stable democracy? Will the Minister ensure that the Westminster Foundation for Democracy is funded adequately, given that it does precisely that?

I agree that one way in which the international community can help to encourage development in developing countries is by promoting good governance. That is one reason why the Department’s third White Paper focused on this issue, and why the most recent White Paper continued to highlight our work on good governance. I have had a series of discussions about the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, as have other Ministers. If the hon. Gentleman has particular concerns about how it is being financed, I will be very happy to meet him to discuss them.