Jan 26, 2014 ANALYSIS Comments Off
Globalizing Talks between FGS and “Somaliland” Reflects Political Immatureness in Mogadishu
By Said Farah
Like most of the Somalis, one can understand the good intentions that lied behind the initiative taken first by president Sharif in 2011 and later followed suit by President Hassan in order to solve the issue of secession for “new Somaliland”. However, a problem of this depth of gravity to the level of breaching to one of the first articles in each subsequent Somali charters and constitutions since 1961- openly claiming for breakaway region from the rest of Somalia, would certainly require a different and carefully balanced approach to decipher it. In my opinion, the direct talks that have taken place outside the country thus far have done more harm than good to the Somali unity. With Over ten meetings that were held between the two sides since 2011, none of it resulted of any meaningful outcome to Somali nation except that it exposed to our territorial integrity to risk. On the contrary, the secessionists get a propaganda opportunity during each negotiating period abroad whereby telling the outside world and in front of the international media that the two teams represent two separated sovereign countries which negotiate on equal terms with their counterparts standing nearby but keeping subdued and silent. On one occasion the head of the official delegate from Mogadishu declared that he is ready to recognize Somaliland had he got the final authority to carry out!
It is so much pretty that President Hassan, in his final speech before the parliament on January 22 2014, pledged that his government will continue negotiating with “Somaliland”, hoping that it will conclude to a good ending. But the million dollar question is what kind of strategy will the president and his team employ to address future negotiations? If it continues on the same trend as before, the outcome will surely be catastrophic and Somalia will disintegrate without doubt. However one may expect a better result, if the government reviews back her old tactics and contain the following points to remake a new approach. Nevertheless before defining a set of strategies to weigh, let us have a close look to the difference between Somaliland today and that one in 1960. The previous firmly united Somaliland (northern regions afterwards) opted for union with Italian Somaliland with no exception while the new Somaliland that calls for separation in 21st century is a divided one. Apart from the diehard separatists who campaign for secession the majority of the grass-roots society in the north are open-minded, peace loving people who do not hold any grudge to co-live with other brothers and sisters together within the same country under a democratic rule provided that they get conducive environment to express their true aspirations.
To formulate the new strategy, FGS must determine first the boundaries which delimit the area that covers the new Somaliland administration. How many of the previous 18 regions stated in the federal constitution belong to new Somaliland? Do Sool and Sanaag regions include it? If the answer is yes to the later, then a point of order comes out! FGS has already recognized those regions to be part for Puntland State of Somalia. On the other hand the President has told in his last speech that they are going to restore back the unity. So which unity does his Excellency points out? Does he mean the old union or a different one? How many regions in the north deny unity currently, and how many of them are sacrificing their lives for it? For the Somali government they have no legal justification whatsoever to consider the pre-union conditions for this issue. The border between the previous two Somalilands was permanently annulled in 1961 right after the referendum to Somali population including the North which resulted clear majority win vote in favor of the union and it was subsequently affirmed by UN, OAU, AU, IGAD declarations which protected the sovereignty of Somali Republic borders since 1991. These and other questions are strongly needed to get proper answers before proceeding to any negotiation with secessionists in the future. Moreover, we recommend the following points to be referred as guiding principles to the negotiation process:
1- All negotiating meetings must shift from Istanbul, Turkey to inside the country be it in Hargeisa, Mogadishu or any other Somali town agreed between the two sides. It is in no way acceptable to the public the continuation and globalization of talks in a foreign country.
2- FGS should adopt a clear policy which underlines that the final decision on the status of future sovereignty of Somalia will only be determined when a democratically elected government takes office in Somalia. To expedite that, Somaliland authorities must extend support in settling and pacifying the country to run 2016 elections across all Somalia.
3- “Somaliland” must stop considering Somali passport as a foreign one and remove all other hostile restrictions to Somali citizens living in northern regions or travelling to it to show good faith particularly those from other parts of Somalia.
4- “Somaliland” must permit unionist parties to exercise local politics and should restore back their right to open offices in northern regions without fear to jail in those areas that come under their control.
5- Puntland should be part of negotiating process since Sool and Sanaag regions are disputed by both authorities. As per the federal constitution Article 53 states, International Negotiations: in the spirit of inter-governmental cooperation the Federal Government shall consult the Federal Member States on negotiations relating to foreign aid, trade, treaties, or other major issues related to international agreements.
b. Where negotiations particularly affect Federal Member State interests, the negotiating delegation of the Federal Government shall be supplemented by representatives of the Federal Member States governments.
6- In case Somaliland authorities defy accepting those conditions, the federal government should cancel these unproductive talks, prioritize activities and divert its utmost concentration on completion of establishing remaining federal member states to prepare for 2016 elections, as per article 49 in the constitution.
Finally FGS must not entertain comprises that violates wishes and interests of all Somali citizens inside the country. The time to bombard Hargeisa population with planes, crash Buuhodle dwellers with armored cars or dictate unwanted decision to others have gone forever and will never come back Inshallah. The will of our people united will reign.
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