Somaliland warns FGS against "interference" in latest spat over Taiwan ties
HARGEISA, Somalia - The relationship between Somaliland and Somalia nosedived further on Wednesday with the East Asia island of Taiwan being at the epicenter of controversy between Mogadishu and Hargeisa, in yet another incident which could derail ongoing peace talks in Djibouti.
Last month, President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed convened a conference in Djibouti with an aim of solving diplomatic stalemate between the two states. The technical committee was set to table recommendations for implementation within 45 days according to organizers.
But on Tuesday, Somalia's Foreign Ministry denounced the new diplomatic cooperation between Taiwan and Somaliland, arguing that such actions were in violation of her "territorial integrity and sovereignty" and vowed to use the "international law" to pursue legal readdress to the matter.
However, in a rejoinder, Somaliland has warned Somalia against interfering with her "territory", terming the reaction over Taiwan ties from Mogadishu as "astonishing". In a statement, Hargeisa insisted that cooperation with Taiwan is based on a mutual relationship in compliance with international diplomatic standards.
"While still, Somaliland has many diplomatic offices around the world, Taiwan's new relationship is among such mutual cooperation and long-standing friendship between Somaliland and other members of the international community," read the statement, which could have a massive significant effect in the ongoing dialogue.
The northern breakaway region claimed to have seceded from Somalia in 1991 following decades of civil war which left thousands dead during the military regime of Siad Barre. Somaliland got independence from Britain on June 26, 1960, before reaching a consensus with Somalia which led to their merger six days later.
Hargeisa insisted that her "sovereignty and territorial integrity are indisputable and irrevocable on the basis of these historical accounts". According to authorities, Somaliland's boundaries are embedded in the historical treaty in Cairo where African nations agreed to stick with colonial boundaries as the mark of territorial integrity.
Somaliland further defended the relationship with Taiwan, which was recently approved by the United States to the detriment of China. Taiwan, otherwise formally known as the Republic of China, has also been fighting for self-determination from China, which also denounced Taipei's ties with Hargeisa.
"The bilateral relationship between Somaliland and Taiwan is based on reciprocal and shared values of peace, freedom, and democracy and the baseless propaganda from Somalia won't prevent this historic relationship," Somaliland said.
Early this week, Taiwan formally unveiled diplomatic offices in Hargeisa, a drastic step towards pushing for their international recognition bid. The two nations have also dispatched official representatives in their respective capital cities amid opposition from China and Somalia.
Somaliland warned Somalia's administration to "refrain from repeated groundless and uninformed with aim of misleading the world". It insisted that "Somaliland is a sovereign state that respects other nations."
Mogadishu had on Tuesday fired back at Taiwan, accusing authorities from Taipei of undermining her sovereignty and territorial integrity. In a tough-worded statement, Somalia insisted that it will defend her territory through "diplomatic" means including but not limited to using international law.
"The federal government of Somalia condemns Taiwan's reckless attempts to infringe sovereignty Somalia and violate its territorial integrity. The Federal Republic of Somalia stands to protect its integrity, the unity of people, and territorial integrity," read the statement.
"The FGS, therefore, urges Taiwan to cease its misinformed ventures into any part in the territory of Somalia. These principles are non-negotiable," Mogadishu added. A similar warning had been issued by China against Taiwan following the cooperation with Somaliland.
Somaliland, just like Taiwan, has been running a parallel functional government and is considered to be more secure than Somalia. In July, the United States recognized the relationship between Somaliland and Taiwan, a decision which was fiercely criticized by China.
Besides Taiwan, Somaliland has established close to 27 consulates across the world in a move seen as a strategy to convince the international community to accelerate her bid for statehood. Should it get approval, it would be the 55th nation in Africa.
In recent weeks, the region has been working closely with Kenya to push for recognition. Kenya sits at the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] and reports recently indicated that Nairobi had started assessing the possibility of pushing the Somaliland agenda in parliament after brief cabinet discussions.