Somaliland, Somalia meet in Djibouti, discuss recognition, bilateral relationship

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The Somaliland’s President, Muse Bihi Abdi, and his counterpart from Somalia, Mohamed Abdillahi Farmajo, have met and discussed bilateral relationship at a meeting organized by the Present of Djibouti, Ismail Omer Gelleh.

The meeting which was held at Kempinski Hotel in Djibouti on Sunday June 14, 2020, was attended prominent diplomats: Dr. Abiye Ahmed, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Hassan Ali Khayre, the Prime Minister of Somalian; Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Wrkneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of IGAD; Donald Yamamoto, the US Ambassador to Somalia and Somaliland; Joseph Silva, the Head of the European Union in Djibouti; Representative of the United Nations, Ministers and Ambassadors.

Speaking at the meeting, president Abdi began his speech with appreciation of the organizer of the meeting.

He explained that the aim of the meeting was to ensure peaceful coexistence between Somalia and Somaliland.

“First and foremost, let me say that it is a great pleasure to be here with you today to participate in the continuation of the dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia.

“Allow me to extend my sincere appreciation to the regional, continental and international community for your presence here today, to discuss a topic of great importance to the Horn of Africa.

“Allow me to further thank H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh and the people of Djibouti for their warm and brotherly hospitality in welcoming us to this beautiful country,” Abdi said before an audience at the meeting.

“Though we may be separated by land and sea, nothing will diminish the important roles you all play and will continue to play, in your efforts to bring peace and stability to the African continent.

“The region is suffering from a combination of unprecedented challenges, which range from COVID-19 to environmental and socio-economic issues. Regional cooperation and hegemony is urgently required to steward the vulnerable to a more prosperous and stabile future,” he continued.

President Muse noted that the meeting was mediation talks that would help build a safe, secure and stable bilateral relationship for the people for Somaliland and Somalia.

Somaliland President went down the memory lane of how the Republic of Somaliland country got independence from the Great Britain and the genesis of the disintegration between Somalia and Somaliland.

“Excellences, allow me to present a brief historical background on how we got to where we are today. Republic of Somaliland received its independence from the United Kingdom on 26 June 1960. Notification of that independence was duly registered with the United Nations and 35 countries recognized Somaliland. Somaliland voluntarily united with Somalia on 1 July, 1960 to form the Somali Republic. The union was not legally binding, as the Act of Union was never formally signed.

“Therefore, the unification effort fell short of the requirements mandated by domestic and international law.

“From the beginning, the union malfunctioned as Somaliland people were hugely oppressed. The people of Somaliland expressed their displeasure with the union by overwhelming voting against the new constitution in the referendum held in 1961 and a followed full-scale struggle against the Somali Republic.

“This resulted in the collapse of the Somali Republic in 1991 and the restoration of the independence of the Republic of Somaliland on 18 May 1991,” he explained.

He further stated that since restoring its independence, Somaliland, with its scarce resources, and limited international support, has embarked on conflict resolution and peace as well as state building. He stressed that the country has achieved the following: establishment of good governance and government institutions, conduct of a constitutional referendum and series of free and fair elections.

“Republic of Somaliland also created a conducive environment that enabled a thriving private sector and an in-flow of international investment.

“Somaliland has played an important role in the peace and security of the region and has been a reliable partner in the fight against terrorism, piracy, human trafficking, money laundering and other forms of organized crimes.

“Unfortunately, instead of appreciating all those efforts and contributions made by the Somaliland people for the last 30 years, Somalia was in a constant war against the development of Somaliland, economically, security wise, investment wise and this deepened the mistrust and animosity between the two countries,” he stated.

He stated that evidence of war crimes committed against the people of Somaliland, was properly documented by the UN special Rapporteur for human rights and a forensic team from physicians for human rights and Somaliland War Crimes Commission.

He affirmed that the mass graves will forever testify to the crimes against humanity committed by the government of Somalia against the people of Somaliland.

While emphasing that the best mediation approach was proper regard to the past, he stated that the legacy of oppression against the people of Somaliland should not be swept away.

“Rather they must be acknowledged and taken into account when considering Somaliland people’s right to self-determination and independence,” he said.

“The case for Somaliland independence is unique. This fact is also acknowledged by the AU mission to Somaliland in 2005 that concluded the situation was sufficiently “unique and self- justified in African political history” that “the case should not be linked to the notion of pandora’s box.

“It recommended that the AU “should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case” at the earliest possible date.

“Furthermore, the 2005 AU fact mission to Somaliland reported that the “plethora of problems confronting Somaliland (are in part) the legacy of a political union with Somalia that malfunctioned (and) brought destruction and ruin thereby overburdening the population,” he continued.

He stated that Somaliland’s legal case for international recognition as an independent state conforms with international laws and satisfies the statehood criteria as set out in the Montevideo convention of 1933.

He reiterated that Somaliland fulfills the condition enshrined in article 4(b)of the Constitutive Act of the African Union.

“Somaliland is fully aware that in the African context, the exercise of the right to self- determination is linked to the principle of respect for pre-existing boundaries (utipossidetis juris).

“Somaliland’s case for international recognition involves restoring borders it possessed both as a colonial entity and as an independent state.

“Between 1991 and 2000, the OAU consented to the break-up of two other unions. In 1989, Senegal opted to terminate its seven-year merger with Gambia as Senigambia federation and 1993 Eretria formerly seceded from Ethiopia.

“Furthermore, in supporting the comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2005 and subsequently independence of South Sudan and its admission to the AU, the African Union has accepted the break-up of Sudan,” he explained.

He concluded that the Somaliland’s pursuit of recognition was not a case of secession but rather dissolution of voluntary union between two independent states.

He stressed that a number of AU member states are also the product of a failed union: Mali, Senegal, Gambia and Egypt have all withdrawn from unions with their borders intact.

Making reference to the independence granted to territories without full sovereignty, he said the Republic of Somaliland also exercised its inherent right to self-determination which are consistent with the preamble of UN 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Somaliland has long argued that Somali Republic was two united countries. The Failure of the unity government provided adequate ground for the restoration of the independence of Somaliland Republic.

“We believe that the key to sustainable and peaceful future lies in an honest and sincere dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia under the auspice of a neutral and impartial international mediation mechanism and a guarantor.

“Somaliland remains committed to a peaceful co-existence with Somalia. However, Somaliland insists in that the dialogue should be a two state process with a substantive agenda that address the core issues of the dispute.

“Today, how can we proceed to this dialogue, if the previously signed agreements in London, Istanbul and Djibouti were not implemented yet?

“We cordially propose that a serious mediation mechanism and a guarantor should be in place for this new round dialogue,” he stated.

While expressing gratitude to Somalia for their sincere apology for the horrors committed in Somaliland, he noted that the current generation of Somalia was not responsible for what the previous generation did.

“But with acknowledgment also comes responsibility – responsibility for the damage that horror caused. Words are not enough – the horror of the past requires more than words, it requires actions.

“The act of recognising Somaliland as an independent state would go a long way to heal the wounds of the past and enable our two states to embrace each other in our independent but closely interwoven futures.

“I am confident that we can build a brighter future together as brotherly, neighbouring nations and for our own people and the region,” he concluded.

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