Somalia: UN chief acknowledges Farmajo's apology to Somaliland
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The ongoing efforts for renewing talks between the Federal Government of Somalia and the country’s northern breakaway region of Somaliland is commendable, UN Chief Antonio Guterres has noted, amid tussles among those entrusted to execute the much-needed peace.
For several years, both sides have failed to keep on the face to face negotiations become stalled started in 2012. President Muse Bihi said his region must be first recognized before the resumption of the talks.
Despite being part of Somalia, Somaliland declared self-independence in 1991 and has been running its affairs separately, although it's yet to be recognized by the international community, 29 years later.
But in an advanced copy of a speech by Guitteres due to be delivered at the United Nations Security Council, the UN chief appreciates a recent meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi, which was held in Addis Ababa.
The meeting between the two protagonists, Guitteres says, was a "positive step" towards reunion efforts for Somaliland and Somalia, which have had a strained relationship, including "unnecessary" embargos that affect the almost homogeneous composition of their population.
After the February Addis Ababa meeting, Farmajo issued a public statement in which he "acknowledged atrocities" committed by the previous regime, which Guitteres now terms as a "bold and honest" approach towards the world's most unsolved crisis.
"I commend President Farmajo for issuing a public statement acknowledging past human rights violations by the Siad Barre regime, and President Bihi for accepting the gesture," reads part of the speech, which was obtained by Garowe Online.
From these gains, the UN chief ads, Bihi and Farmajo should devise a strategy of reviving the dialogue which seems to have after all stalled, due to undeniable suspicions that have existed between Mogadishu and Hargeisa for decades.
"I call upon both leaders to build upon this engagement to improve relations and make progress towards a resumption of the dialogue between Somalia and Somaliland," added Guterres, who is represented in Somalia by James Swan.
Ethiopian PM Ahmed Abiy engineered the talks which multiple sources confided in Garowe Online that they were "impromptu" since one of the parties seemed to be "unprepared" after all. Ahmed is the Nobel Peace Laureate for 2019 following his successful expedition in brokering Ethiopia-Eritrea traditional divisions.
But subsequent attempts to organize a historical trip by Farmajo to Hargeisa flopped after reports emerged that Bihi had called for "more time to consult with his people first". Top government officials from Somaliland had also rejected the advances from Mogadishu.
Siad Barre ruled with an iron fist for almost 21 years, and his tenure was marred with controversy, including attempts to reclaim Northern Frontier Districts of Kenya and the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, which was met with brutality and force from the two neighbors. The two regions are predominantly occupied by Somalis.
The UN chief also lauds efforts from multinational teams which have traditionally helped to push for peacekeeping process in Somalia, a country embroiled in inter-clan conflicts, internal political squabbles, and Al-Shabaab menace for many years now.
As a show of gratitude, he notes the contribution by African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the European Union, Member States, nongovernmental organizations, and other partners for their continued support for peacebuilding and state-building in Somalia.
"I remain grateful to the I pay tribute to the sacrifices of AMISOM and Somali security forces in pursuit of peace and stability in the country," he adds in his speech, which covers many social-economic and geopolitical situations within the Horn of Africa nation.
Al-Shabaab has particularly given the international community headache due to increased attacks at the time AU forces are planning to leave the war-torn nation. By the end of 2021, Somalia forces are expected to assume security assignments in the country.
He condemns attacks against civilians and peacekeeping troops waged by the Al-Shabaab, which has worked profusely to topple the fragile UN-backed Somalia government under the leadership of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
"I strongly condemn Al-Shabaab attacks, which disproportionately impact civilians and note the evolving threat posed by the group. Mortar attacks targeting the United Nations and AMISOM facilities in Mogadishu are also unacceptable and a matter of grave concern," he notes.