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THE HORN OF AFRICA ON THE EVE OF INDEPENDENCE: ETHIOPIAN INVOLVEMENT IN SOMALI FEDERALIST PLANS [Abstract ID: 0502-06]
During the 1950s, Somali nationalism raised quickly under the leadership of the Somali Youth League (SYL) which was founded in 1943, soon after the Italian defeat in the Horn of Africa. The Somali national movement is usually depicted with a very strong unitary and centralized attitude towards the independent State and its institutions. In actuality the Republic of Somalia, born on July 1st 1960, was an unitary and centralized State where the political life was based on a de facto one-party system, i.e. the monopoly of the Syl. Very less attention in contemporary historiography was addressed to loser plans of the main opposition party, the Hizbia Dustur Mustaqil Somali (HDMS), to build up a Somali federal State, or at least decentralized regime. The paper is devoted to study the political relations between the HDMS and the Ethiopian regime that was very willing to support the idea of Somali federation within the framework of a greater regional federation among Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. Ethiopian interference in Somali path towards independence was not able to achieve any concrete results in terms of State building, however it is important to understand the shaping of borders and their contestation in Southern-Eastern Horn of Africa. On one hand, the failure of federal plans covered the relevance of internal borders and social complexity of Somali society that tragically raised again during the last few decades, on the other hand the international Somali-Ethiopian frontier became more and more a divisive border between two different model of social and institutional space-building and their two respective States: Somalia and Ethiopia.