Both Suad Armiye, the Chair of WLSC, and Eid Hassan, the Coordinator, briefed the Minister about the aims and objectives of the Community, and, also, the Community’s achievements. The Minister was, observably, impressed with the amount of work the Community has achieved, successfully, so far. The Minister thanked both the Chair and the Coordinator for the invitation they have offered him to visit the Centre and meet with the community members. The Minister has mentioned how WLSC is the only Somaliland Community Centre he has either ‘heard of or knows about’.
He praised the unity the Somalilanders in UK and all over the World has displayed, recently, and encouraged that the Somalilanders to continue fighting for their rights and the rights of their country. The Minister stated that the Unity and the hard work that the UK Somalilanders has shown during the London Conference on Somalia was acknowledged by the Republic of Somaliland’s government, and, in fact, fortified the government’s decision to partake the Conference.
When speaking about the achievements the Republic of Somaliland has attained, in regard to the London Conference on Somalia, which has taking place on 23nd February 2012, the Minister said that Somaliland has gained number of things that benefit us economically, politically, and overall country profile, where the international community and the media were focusing on Somaliland and its contribution to the Conference. The Minister explained that ‘being part of the International Community doesn’t come by easily’, but that Somaliland is expected to engage in the International Community and become a ‘game player’.
The Minister continued with his explanation and stated that partaking the International conferences like the London Conference on Somalia and the Wilton Park Conference, which the Minister said was a ‘pathway’ to the London Conference on Somalia, are positive foreign policy and strategy for Somaliland.
The Minister stated that his government has ‘fiercely’ opted for ‘engagement’ policy, which he said is very fruitful and has gained Somaliland many allies. Although, he said that none of these allies want to be the first to grant the Republic of Somaliland a diplomatic recognition. The Minister said that the allies Somaliland has gained vowed to be ‘second or third’ to announce a full recognition for the Republic of Somaliland, and that his government will continue, resolutely, for its strategy to obtain that one country, who will be the first to announce a full recognition for Somaliland. T
he Minister informed the audience that most of Somaliland’s allies advised Somaliland to be ‘a game player and not a guest’ in engaging with the International Community. An advice the Minister is convinced to be pragmatic in Somaliland’s search for diplomatic recognition.
Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar, the Rep of Somaliland’s Foreign Minister, explained that Somaliland opted to ‘have friendly relations with its neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti’. This objective enables Somaliland to come off of, what the Minister calls ‘aid token’, and instead, get Somaliland direct investments and development programmes. The Minister stated that these are not ‘policies’, but, rather, ‘objectives’ Somaliland is determined to engage in, successfully. The Minister said ‘policy is the one that led me to attend the Wilton Park Conference’.
The Minister continued to enlighten the audience about the pragmatism and the fruitfulness his government’s engagement policy has, and stated that Somaliland’s participation at the London Conference on Somalia ‘allowed Somaliland’ to sit at the World leaders’ circle, and ‘our president made his own speech’, which he said was focused on Somaliland and didn’t criticise ‘our brothers in Somalia’.
The Minister said that there were number of ‘bilateral meetings’, which Somaliland have had with the other World leaders, and in which Somaliland was able to ‘sell its case’ to the World. ‘Somaliland did not, only, make speech at the Conference, but we handed in information packs to the participants and the Media there’, said the Minister.
The Minster emphasised that Somaliland president, His Excellence Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud, was at the London Conference on Somalia representing one country; Somaliland, and that his government is the only representative of Somaliland, unlike, the Minister said ‘Somalia, who was presented by number of presidents and no central government’.
The Minister said that Somaliland welcomes the outcome of the Conference, including the communiqué that states Somalia and Somaliland to arbitrate their issue and reach a mutual agreement. The Minister said that this is a ‘good point’. ‘The International Community did not discuss about [the Somaliland and Somalia case] this’, but, he explained that this is, instead, an outcome prompted by Somaliland’s participation and contribution to this, particular, Conference.
The Minister said ‘Somaliland will take the lead’ in this, particular, communiqué of the London Conference on Somalia.
West London Somaliland Community members, who attended this meeting, seemed quite content with the Minister’s input and his effort to share both his government’s strategy, prior and during the London Conference, and the outcomes of that Conference. The Minister took few questions from the attendees in a Q/A session.
Sahra, a long time member of WLSC, asked if Somaliland has other plan and/or strategy to obtain its rightful diplomatic recognition,’ if Somalia doesn’t succeed’ to forming a functioning central government so as to satisfy the communiqué that instructs the two countries [Somaliland and Somalia] to reach a mutual agreement, or would ‘Somaliland wait for another 20 years or so’? Another attendee asked what Somaliland is doing about the criminals, who, after they commit crimes in Somaliland, escape to Ethiopia.
The Minister answered the former question and said ‘No, Somaliland would not wait’ if Somalia doesn’t form one legit representative to deal with in regard to the communiqué. The Minister declared that Somaliland would engage other options to obtain its diplomatic recognition, regardless of Somalia’s situation. And in regard to the latter question, the Minister stated that Somaliland and Ethiopia have strong friendship and that the two countries work together in many areas including the security of the region, and that any criminal who escapes from any of the [two] countries would not find a safe haven in either of them.
He reaffirmed that Somaliland has its Police, Army, and Security Intelligence among many other departments that deal with the country’s security and defence, and that Somaliland shares regional security interest with neighbouring countries like Ethiopia, which the countries engage, completely.
Again, the Minister thanked WLSC and the Somalilanders, who participated the meeting. The Minister encouraged the UK Somalilanders to continue their hard work and unity in promoting their country’s independence and identity, and vowed that his government will continue to work with the Somaliland diaspora.
By Salma Shiekh