- Arguably the most difficult problem facing the new government in Somalia will be the unity of the Somali Republic. The Republic of Somaliland (northwest Somalia) declared its independence in 1991 and a significant majority of Somalilanders now support independent statehood. The Republic of Somaliland has yet to gain international recognition, however, and the vast majority of southern Somalis oppose Somaliland’s independence.
I am not for or against Somaliland gaining independence, but I definitely support the self determination of the people of Somaliland who had a lasting peace and development for the last 21 years. I’m not from Somaliland, nor is my family, but my people in Somalia and indeed Horn of Africans have so much to learn from Somaliland and its democratic progress.
In June of this year, the president of Somalia’s former Transitional Federal Government, popularly known as TFG, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Somaliland’s president Ahmed Silanyo held their formal talks in Dubai, UAE, the first since Somaliland broke away more than two decades ago.
Somaliland agreed to enter into the talks during a February meeting in London when 40 global leaders met to tackle piracy, terrorism and political instability in Somalia. Somaliland’s administration says its priority is to remain separate from the rest of Somalia and wants Mogadishu to recognise its independence.
The world watched in joy (for the most part) as the people of South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after decades of war and violence in July, 2011. Some argue Somalia is not anything close to the Sudans, but Somalia and Somaliland can both draw a lesson from Sudan and South Sudan’s process that led to South Sudan gaining independence peacefully with majority of people on both sides satisfied.
In 2005 the separatist Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the ruling National Islamic Front (NIF) of Sudan came together to end the Second Sudanese Civil War that had ravaged the country for a generation. In the Naivasha Agreement brokered in Kenya, President Omar Al-Bashir offered the SPLM an independence referendum following a six-year period of cooperation and ceasefire.
The people of Somaliland believe their worst mistake as a state was the union with Somalia during independence in 1960. The commonly-held belief of Somalilanders has always been that the people of southern Somalia have been holding Somaliland back from its independence.
However, it is Somaliland’s own political misguidance that has kept it in the current status quo. While South Sudan seized the opportunity for an independence referendum from the Khartoum regime, as did Eritrea from the Addis Ababa regime in Ethiopia, Somaliland has turned its back on Mogadishu, depriving itself of real independence.
Somaliland can’t ignore the new Mogadishu administration led by president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and think it will achieve independence through its current policy.
With a new government in Mogadishu there is bold chance for both Somaliland and Somalia to enter dialogue and produce a process that all Somalis will accept. It’s an opportunity that can’t be missed.
by Abdul Sharif/ kweschn.wordpress