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Somaliland issues tough orders over talks with FGS amid calls for Int'l recognition

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The international community will decide the fate of the ongoing dialogue between the northern breakaway region of Somaliland and Somalia's Federal Government, an official has said, arguing that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that some of the agreeable issues are expeditiously implemented to combat possible collapse of the talks.

Delegations from both sides have been holding the talks in neighboring Djibouti for the last one month and recommendations by the joint ministerial committee are expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks, with stakeholders calling for a truce, over 30 years after Somaliland declared self-independence from Somalia.

Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh and his Ethiopian counterpart Dr. Abiy Ahmed brokered the talks, which were preceded by a meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi in Addis Ababa earlier this year. The US is said to have engineered the talks.

But in an exclusive interview with Garowe Online on Saturday, Somaliland's representative to Kenya Bashe Omar seemed to blame the international community for failing to hold Somalia "accountable" for previous agreements, adding that the move showcases "lack of commitment".

According to the envoy, previous agreements have been mutilated by Mogadishu, hence, the ongoing talks ought to be properly regulated by ensuring the outcome is implemented for the sake of "defining" future engagements between the two parties.

"The international community failed to hold the Somalia administration accountable in the discussions with Somaliland shows a lack of commitment," the envoy said. "Moving forward Somaliland will only engage with Somalia in discussions that will provide a mechanism to hold Somalia accountable in implementing the agreed points."

Washington, the United Nations, and the European Union have been pushing for reconciliation between Mogadishu and Hargeisa, but such efforts have often derailed due to sharp historical differences between them. EU ambassador to Somalia Nicolas Berlanga has been instrumental in mediating both parties.

And now, Hargeisa maintains that the success of the current reconciliation efforts depends on the commitment by the international community, adding that it must ensure both Somalia and Somaliland comply with the agreements by implementing them without hindrance.

"The success of the talks depends on the commitment from the IC to ensure both sides fulfill the outcome of the talks and to put place the mechanism that will ensure the agreed points are implemented," Omar, a close ally of Muse Bihi added.

The two teams had agreed not to politicize aid as one of the conditions for the talks to proceed. Three subcommittees on aviation, aid, and mutual relations were constituted and would handover report to the joint ministerial committee for final deliberations in the coming days.

Djibouti was selected as the venue for the talks because of its neutrality, Omar said, adding that the international partners were incorporated as "mediators and guarantors" for the purpose of overseeing the implementation of the outcome.

Despite the ongoing talks, Somaliland has been on a diplomatic offensive in recent weeks, formalizing ties with secessionist East Asia island Taiwan, a move that has irked both China and Somalia. Also, Garowe Online had established that Somaliland is working closely with Kenya, which recently won the UNSC seat, to push for its international recognition.

Inside the plan, top officials in Kenya confirmed, opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has since reconciled with President Uhuru Kenyatta, is set to visit Hargeisa to establish "the level of preparedness". But Omar denied knowledge of the talks, saying that "I am not aware of Raila visit in Somaliland".

Although it gained independence from Britain in 1960, Somaliland merged with Somalia to form the Republic of Somalia. However, the union between the two was irretrievably broken in 1991 after civil war broke out which was engineered by the dictatorial regime, leading to the pursuit of self-determination by Somaliland.

Efforts to reconcile the two have often hit a snug due to "unsolved" historical issues. Should Somaliland gain international recognition in the coming years, it will become the 55th state in Africa and would end almost three decades of secessionist policy which gave it autonomy since 1991 after Siad Barre's dethronement.


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