Long queues of voters could be seen around polling stations in the Hargeysa, capital of the self-declared state of Somaliland, as they waited in line to vote in the referendum on independence. Pro-referendum demonstrations with women singing and waving branches took place on Wednesday evening and Thursday, and some celebrated by slaughtering a goat. Voters at the polling stations told IRIN that they had turned out to vote "yes" for the "motherland".

Somalis in the self-declared state of Somaliland, northwestern Somalia, will be asked on 31 May to vote on a new constitution which includes an article on territorial independence. Somaliland independence was unilaterally declared in May 1991, but has never received international recognition. The declaration followed the collapse of Muhammad Siyad Barre's military dictatorship, which had pursued brutal policies in the north during the civil war of the 1980s. During a recent visit to the more

The combined effects of the continuing livestock ban and high inflation are leading to a growing "north-south economic divide" in Somalia, said a joint report by the USAID Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET) and the European Union funded FAO/Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU). The north and central parts of the country continue to suffer the impact of lost livestock exports to the Gulf states, whereas the ban has had a "negligible impact" in the south, FSAU said in its April monthly more

The self-declared state of Somaliland, northwestern Somalia, is gearing up for a referendum on the constitution ­- including an article on independence ­- at the end of May. Unilateral independence was declared on 18 May 1991 by the northern-based Somali National Movement (SNM) after it had fought a successful insurgency against former President Muhammad Siyad Barre, whose government collapsed in January 1991.

Heavy fighting broke out in the Somali capital Mogadishu, on Friday, around 16:00 local time, after faction leader Husayn Muhammad Aydid entered the former port. A battle between the opposition leader and militia guarding the port for the Transitional National Government (TNG) escalated into the bloodiest fighting experienced in Mogadishu over the last few years, and constitutes the biggest challenge yet to the interim government.