From the NY Times:
BURAO, Somalia — The rallies usually start early in the morning, before the sunshine hurts.
By 8 a.m. on a recent day, thousands of people were packed into Burao’s sandy town square, with little boys climbing high into the trees to get a peek at the politicians.
“We’re going to end corruption!” one of the politicians boomed, holding several microphones at once. “We’re going to bring dignity back to the people!”
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The boys cheered wildly. Wispy militiamen punched bony fists in the air. The politicians’ messages were hardly original. But in this corner of Africa, a free and open political rally — led, no less, by opposition leaders who could actually win — is an anomaly apparently worthy of celebration.
The crowd that day helped tell a strange truth: that one of the most democratic countries in the Horn of Africa is not really a country at all. It is Somaliland, the northwestern corner of Somalia, which, since the disintegration of the Somali state in 1991, has been on a quixotic mission for recognition as its own separate nation.