Inside Somalia's preliminary agreement with Somaliland in Djibouti-organised summit


MOGADISHU, Somalia - A technical committee comprising of representatives from secessionist Somaliland and Somalia has been picked to steer the reconciliation process between the two parties, Djibouti announced on Sunday, just hours after a meeting that involved top leadership from the Horn of Africa.

Under the stewardship of Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian PM Ahmed Abiy, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi met in Djibouti, in a meeting which gives hope for a revival of unitary talks between Hargeisa and Mogadishu.

Since 1991 after the ouster of dictator Siad Barre, Somaliland has been running a parallel functional government, but it's yet to be recognized by the international community, about three decades later. The impasse has necessitated talks between the two parties.

In a communique issued by Djibouti shortly after the meeting, the two rival leaders agreed to form a technical committee, which among others, will look into it some of the contentious issues between Somaliland and Somalia.

The committee, Djibouti added in the statement, will resume talks between the two sides which had stalled, besides making a follow up for some "pending" issues which they had previously agreed upon.

"The president of Somalia and that of Somaliland have come to the understanding that technical committee comprising of members of the two delegations will resume talks between the two sides and also follow up pending issues agreed upon between the two sides," reads the statement.

It's not the first time the two parties are trying to reconcile. A committee had been set by both parties to solve the stalemate but had not come up with conclusive suggestions, partly due to internal disagreements.

According to the communique, both sides agreed albeit temporarily not to politicize development and investment initiatives, adding that negotiations will go on as usual until a binding solution is reached.

"The two sides agreed not to politicize development and investment. The summit proposed Djibouti as the venue for the technical committee meetings," added the statement, noting that Djibouti will be the host of the dialogue.

The international community, which reportedly piled pressure on the two sides to meet, was tasked to give "necessary" support, but the nature of the help wasn't revealed, although the European Union and the US had previously promised to give financial support.

"It's paramount to note that the interest of the people remains the epicenter of the process. The summit asks the international partners to support the process."

Guelleh, who convened the meeting, said Djibouti will continue to support Somalia until a solution is reached, adding that a long-term solution was necessary for the entire Horn of Africa nation, which is currently facing a myriad of pandemics.

"As Djiboutians, we always remain hopeful that our brotherly Somali peoples will find a way forward together and we will always stand with you to help foster the best outcomes for everyone involved," he said in a tweet.

Ethiopian PM Ahmed, who had in February brokered a similar meeting, hailed the two leaders for agreeing to meet, adding that the reunion would serve as a pacemaker for many unity meetings in the coming weeks.

"I am pleased that the consultation summit on relations between Somalia and Somaliland, hosted by Ismail Oguelleh with the presence of Farmaajo and Muse Bihi took place today," he noted. "This is a critical demonstration of open dialogue and reconciliation for national and regional development."

Somalia is set to hold elections later this year and there have been talks to have representatives from Somaliland in the national assembly. In February, Farmajo apologized for atrocities committed by Mogadishu authorities in the 80s.


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