Somaliland: Costly Choice – DJibouti
Laaska News June 27,2011
Friday, Sep. 30, 1966 (TIME)
During the past decade, while the winds of change whipped through the rest of Africa, the only thing blowing in French Somaliland was sand. An arid enclave of 72,000 African tribesmen, 8,000 Arabs and 600,000 goats, it voted in 1958 to remain a colony of France, apparently content with the several mil lion dollars a year that the French spend to help support it. Or so it seemed un til last month, when Charles de Gaulle passed through on the first leg of his round-the-world tour. Unexpectedly, he was greeted by riots and demonstrations whose message to the French was clear:
It was an embarrassing start for a trip designed to shine up De Gaulle’s image as an anti-imperialist, and heads imme diately rolled. The Governor of French Somaliland was fired, the vice president of the local government council was whisked off for “extended leave” in France, and hundreds of agitators were expelled to the neighboring Somali Republic. Still the riots continued, and last week a disturbed De Gaulle acknowl edged that something might be wrong.
Minister of Overseas Territories Pierre Billotte proclaimed that “whatever France’s interests in Somaliland may be, they are not worth her being open to the times.” Hence a new independence ref erendum will be held in the colony be fore the middle of next year.
There was one minor, inevitable catch. If the Somalis were “adventur ous” enough to vote for independence, said Billotte, “they must understand that this will be the end of collaboration with France. There will be no more French aid, military, economic or financial.”