By Barkhad Dahir, 11 April 2013
Hargeisa — As the Somaliland regional administration and the Somali federal government prepare for the anticipated Turkish-mediated talks in Ankara about their future relationship, opposing public statements from officials on both sides show they still are far apart on the issue of unity.
In February 2012, representatives from the Somaliland region and Somalia met for the first round of bilateral talks in 20 years during the Somalia conference in London, producing a resolution that called for clarifying “future relations”.
At a June 2012 meeting in Dubai, Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo and then-Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed agreed to continue bi-lateral talks, but the two sides have not met since.
As Silanyo and his delegation were leaving for Turkey on Monday (April 8th) — where Turkish government-hosted talks with Somalia are expected to start April 13th — the Somaliland leader said his administration was not ready for full unity with the Somali federal government and that it was still pursuing recognition as a sovereign state.
“The points to be agreed upon are clear and we can all guess what they are. Somalia wants a reunion and for all of us to be part of Somalia, [but] Somaliland wants its independence to be recognised and agreed to by the world,” Silanyo said. “That is where the conflict lies, but we will not shut the door on the world. We will state our objectives, we will present and defend our case, and clearly state the position of our people.”
Somalia pushes for unity:
Since the September election of Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the federal government has repeatedly stated that it believes firmly in keeping Somalia united through mediation. Under Somalia’s new federal system of government, Somaliland would be one of several semi-autonomous regions under the national government.
“Today Somalia is not united, but we want to unite it and we will unite it. We will unify it in a peaceful manner,” Mohamud said last month at the al-Jazeera Research Centre for Studies in Doha, according to Hargeisa-based Geeska Afrika Media Centre. “We do not want to unite it using military might or diplomatic pressure. We want talks to take place between Somalis.”
Nonetheless, in February, a week after the arrest of a parliamentarian for treason against his native Somaliland for working in the federal government, Silanyo repeated that Somaliland is prepared to open conditional dialogue over its relationship with Somalia as long as Somaliland’s independence is not up for discussion.