UPDATE: Dr Yusuf Ali Diri informs readers that the Heritage Institute is a Mogadishu based outfit set up by Unionist elements with the sole aim of progagating anti-Somaliland sentiments and cheap policy papers that do not bear the authors names.
By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – Resumed talks between Somaliland and Somalia are part of the activities of first 2013 100 days of the Mogadishu government by the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies-HIPS.
It notes that Somaliland’s grievances based on historical injustices must be recognized and addressed adequately and that Somaliland must realize that its quest to leave the union is growing increasingly untenable because the prospects of the Somali Federal government acquiescing to Somaliland separation in the near future are extremely slim.
These are expressed in the latest HIPS report titled “The Somalia – Somaliland Negotiations”
The recent dialogue between the Somali Federal Government and Somaliland in Turkey is an encouraging step toward political reconciliation. However, so far the talks lack substance and a sense of urgency. Both sides must take concrete actions to inform and involve all concerned stakeholders, including elders, religious scholars, and business leaders in both Somaliland and Somalia.
President Ahmed Silanyo of Somaliland recently admitted that recognition, despite a tireless campaign for more than two decades, has thus far “remained out of reach.” President Hassan Sheikh has repeatedly listed “national unity” as one of the top priorities for his administration. The prospects of the Somali Federal government acquiescing to Somaliland separation in the near future are extremely slim.
With these considerations in mind, the two sides must be prepared for long and difficult negotiations. Somalia and Somaliland must foster the support of the Somali people by making the talks more inclusive. Somaliland should be commended for including opposition figures in its delegation. The federal government should also include those hailing from Somaliland but opposed to its independence in the negotiations. The roots of conflict between the two sides are buried deep in society, making genuine societal engagement essential if negotiations are to succeed.
Similarly, the two sides must embark upon a series of confidence-building measures for the dialogue to be successful. Interactions between Somali academic, business, sports, and cultural communities on both sides of the divide should be restored and encouraged. The two sides’ commitment to work together in the fight against piracy and terrorism should be fully implemented immediately.
Somaliland’s grievances based on historical injustices must be recognized and addressed adequately. Constitutional guarantees must be developed to ensure that past mistakes are not made again. But Somaliland must realize that its quest to leave the union is growing increasingly untenable.