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Our quest for international recognition is unstoppable, says Somaliland official

By Abuga Makori , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - Somalia's northern breakaway region, Somaliland says it will not leave any stone unturned in the quest for international recognition, a top official has reiterated, amid ongoing efforts led by Djibouti for successful negotiations between FGS and Hargeisa-based administration. 

For almost three decades, the region has been running its own government not under the Federal Government of Somalia. But even in the middle of uncertainty, Somaliland has managed to have successful and organized institutions but did not gain international recognization for almost 30 years. 

In an interview with Garowe Online on Monday, Somaliland's representative to Kenya Bashe Omar blamed instability in Somalia for delayed "independence" but insisted that the region is hopeful that the international community would assess the situation and grant Somaliland independence.

Bashe, who previously served as the region's special envoy to the United Arab Emirates, said the situation in Somalia has made it cumbersome for implementation of previous talks notably those held in London, Ankara, and Dubai, where both parties agreed areas of mutual cooperation.

"The situation in Somalia, the unavailability of a stable government has made it difficult for Somaliland to get recognized but we've been having talks before in Ankara, Dubai, London, and most recent Djibouti," he said, adding that: "We shall not leave any stone unturned until we get recognition."

Currently, Somalia's government in Mogadishu and Somaliland are engaged in high-level talks in Djibouti, which were brokered by Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed. Both President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi attended the meeting.

In a Twitter post on Tuesday, Djibouti's Foreign Minister Mohamud Ali Yusuf said: "On the resumption of Somalia's FGSSomaliland talks at the technical committee level, Djibouti is preparing the ground for successful negotiations. It is necessary to be patient, prudent, and remove all obstacles that could detail the process".

It is envisioned that a technical committee that was established would come up with a solution which will end a 30-year impasse, of a marriage which Muse Bihi termed as "irretrievably broken" during his address in Djibouti. The committee is expected to deliver its mandate in early August.

During the Djibouti conference, both parties agreed to end persistent wrangles on aid besides respecting existing cooperation in the operation of their respective skies. For the sake of their ethnic Somali integration, they added, shared prosperities such as culture should be embraced.

But even before the outcome, a determined and resilient Somaliland has continued with charm diplomatic offensive, which has seen Muse Bihi Abdi host high-level delegation from Kenya and Taiwan. It's Taiwan's cooperation with Hargeisa which angered both China and Somalia early this month.

Kenya, Ambassador Omar noted, would play a big role in helping the northern breakaway region of Somalia get its quest expedited at the international level. Although the envoy did not elaborate on Kenya's role in the whole mission, he cited areas of mutual interests between Nairobi and Hargeisa.

"We had a Kenyan delegation visiting Hargeisa and we hope soon they will open an office there. It will be even important that Kenya becomes the first country to fully recognize our independence," he noted, adding that Kenya has been integral in pushing for trade between the two "countries".

"Kenyan teachers in Hargeisa, Kenyans running schools in Hargeisa, many Kenyans working in the hospitality industry, construction, and finance," added the envoy, who has been instrumental in putting Somaliland at the international stage through his worldwide connections and diplomatic experience.

Asked if the quest could ignite aggression from other secessionist movements in Africa, Omar dismissed the narrative as "uninspiring", arguing that Somaliland and Somalia inherited their borders from colonialists unlike other separatist regions in Africa.

The presence of defined boundaries, he noted, would make it easy for both regions to cut ties formally and in peace. Somaliland gained independence from Britain on June 26, 1960, but agreed to unite with Somalia which gained independence from Italians five days later, forming the republic of Somalia.

"Somaliland borders meet the requirements of the African Union. We inherited the borders from colonialists and this makes us different from secessionist movements. We have a stable government and other clearly defined boundaries," he said.


Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991 after years of civil war which were engineered by the rogue regime of Siad Barre, who was toppled by the army, leading to endless chaos across the country. However, no chaos has been witnessed in the north due to the presence of a structured regime.

Last week, Somaliland's main political parties Kulmiye, UCID and Waddani agreed to have local and parliamentary elections this year after almost two decades, in a move which was seen as a strategy to push for international recognition. Muse Bihi Abdi was elected in 2017.

In February this year, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo tendered an apology to Somaliland for atrocities committed by past regimes but Hargeisa insisted that "it was not enough". Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed had brokered the first meeting between Farmajo and Bihi in Addis Ababa the same month.


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