Somaliland Puts Condition on Resuming Formal Talks with Somalia

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Foreign Minister: ‘Neither Somaliland nor International Donors wanted elections postponement’

By Mahmoud Qodah

Hargeisa (Somaliland Monitor) – Somaliland government has once more reiterated its full commitment and readiness to resume the formal talks– which have been put on hold for almost a year – with Somalia Federal Government, but also this time Somaliland government puts a condition before the talks to be resumed.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Dr. Sa’ad Ali Shire told the media that Somaliland as always ready to once more signal its commitment to resume the talks with Somalia and its newly president who has been selected by Somalia Legislators last week. Dr. Sa’ad subsequently added that despite the fact that Somalia during the previous sessions showed lack of honesty and a notion based on ‘give lip service to’, how Somaliland still want to continue the talks with Somalia, but have one condition which is the mediation role and the presence of the international community.

Somaliland government and opposition politicians repeatedly questioned the impartiality of Turkey government which had sponsored and hosted previous sessions of the talks between the two sides, as they accused of biasing and a one which is in favour for the side of Somalia. “Somaliland definitely wants the talks with Somalia to be restarted after a new administration took over. However, this time we will put a condition for the talks, which is the engagement of the international community in the negotiation talks, and to be sponsored by them,”

“Since 2012, Somaliland and Somalia have met almost 8 times, but unfortunately the outcome of those meetings didn’t become something tangible. Frankly the blame is on the side of Somalia, because they were not fully committed and serious about the talks with Somaliland. As a new government and a president took over, we are hopeful the talks between Somaliland and Somalia to be officially recommenced. We likewise look forward more commitment from the side of Somalia in order to realize achieving the main goals of the talks.”

In a response to why Somaliland and Somalia should have direct talks without mediation role played by a third party, Foreign Minister highlighted that the suspended talks between Somaliland and Somalia is an international issue and not a local one, as the fact on the ground is that Somaliland and Somalia is now two different countries.

Previously Somaliland presidential elections were scheduled to take place in March 28 of this year, but later opposition parties, President Ahmed Silanyo, and Ruling Party have reached an agreement in which they have delayed elections until October due to severe droughts which have displaced 1.5 million people in the eastern regions of the country. But Somaliland International partners have strongly criticized this agreement as they expressed a serious concern about the delay of the presidential elections, as they pointed out that the drought become a tool to undermine the democracy in Somaliland.

Dr. Sa’ad Shire speaking about the reality that the election postponements would have negative consequences on international community’s engagement in country’s democratization process as well as the aid relief given to Somaliland, he noted, “It is not a secret that Somaliland’s international partners liked the election to be held as scheduled,”

“Equally Somaliland liked the elections to be held on due time too, as we believe election delays are not a good for us. But this time there was a justification and we have explained those barriers to them, and again we will give further details about the real reasons behind the delay. I have not heard any official news where they (International community) have said they will cut their aid to Somaliland; however they told that they want to have discussions about the previous agreement on Somaliland development funds. So there is nothing more, only we need to convince each other.”

Somaliland and Somalia negotiation talks has been started in 2012, and the representatives of the 2 countries have had face-to-face discussions after they met almost 12 times in different countries including Turkey, Dubai, and Djibouti, but still parties seem to be far from reaching an agreement on the most important point of the talks, as the outcome of the previous meetings had done nothing to change and shape the relationship status between the two sides (Somalia and Somaliland). Somaliland, former British Protectorate, is desperately seeking international recognition, after it reinserted its sovereignty in 1991 which lost after it had made a merger with the rest of Somalia which was under the colony of Italy in 1960. Somaliland unlike Somalia enjoyed relative peace and stability it has created its own system of government – which is democratic, as it is a country where the rule of law prevails. It has its own constitution, currency, passport, national army.

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