Wednesday May 25, 2016
By FRED OLUOCH
Somalis in Somaliland celebrate independence day in Hargesia. Somalia wants to reunite with Somaliland. FILE PHOTO | AFP
Somalia is reaching out to the semi-autonomous Somaliland to consider rejoining the union as the country prepares for presidential elections in September.
Joint talks will be held on May 31 in Turkey, to discuss technical issues on the movement of people, trade, passports and the representation of the people of Somaliland, which broke away in 1991 in parliament.
Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya, Gamal Hassan, said that the position of Somalia is that Somaliland is part and parcel of Somalia and that secession is not going to work.
“The unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia are not negotiable and any discussion must eventually lead to reunification,” said Mr Hassan, who added that the discussion in Turkey will only focus on building strong relations while comprehensive talks for unity will be organised later.
The talks in Turkey are a continuation of the Somalia London Conference of 2012, which brought in leaders from Somaliland as a way of consolidating Somalia’s political and development gains since the intervention of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) in 2007.
Since then, the two have held talks in the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, and Turkey with the main discussion centred on the need to facilitate development projects in each other’s territories as well as co-operation on security issues.
But the challenge is that the two continue to hold on to their positions, where Hargeisa is pursuing a separation and international recognition while Mogadishu is not willing to accept a sovereign and independent Somaliland.
Somaliland — the northwestern region that celebrated its 25 years of independence on May 18 — has maintained that it is a sovereign state despite having pushed for global recognition for the past two decades without success.
Sources close to the talks said that Turkey which has been supporting the Somalia Federal Government-initiating projects in Mogadishu such as roads, hospitals and schools — is keen on the unity of Somalia with the objective of using Somalia as an anchor for its geopolitical interests in the region.
President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo of Somaliland is now also calling for European Union, Sweden and Norway to act as mediators during the May 31 talks.
Somaliland is still awaiting response to its 2005 application to the African Union for recognition, as the rest of the world cannot recognise it without endorsement by the continental body, despite being an island of peace and stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa.
The government of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has incorporated a number of individuals from his government from Somaliland in order to make unity more attractive.
Since its breakaway from Somalia following the fall of the Siad Barre government in 1991, Somaliland, with a population of 3.5 million, has put in place working institutions such as the judiciary, the police and a functioning civil service, maintained peace and held five successive multiparty elections.