Somalia and Somaliland Agree to Resume Talks to Resolve Long-Standing Issues

Sat Dec 30 2023
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MOGADISHU: In a significant diplomatic development, Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland have agreed to restart dialogue, aiming to address longstanding political tensions and issues that have existed for years.

The accord, signed on Friday, followed two days of talks facilitated by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, marking the first such negotiations since 2020 when previous discussions reached an impasse.

In a joint statement released by the Somali presidency, the two sides expressed their commitment to resume the dialogue process with a focus on national interests, working toward a sustainable solution.

Somaliland, a region that declared independence from Somalia in 1991, has been seeking full statehood, a move contested by Mogadishu and not recognized internationally. Despite its quest for recognition, Somaliland has been considered a relatively stable entity in the turbulent Horn of Africa region.

Under the Djibouti-mediated pact, both sides agreed to a roadmap for talks to be initiated within 30 days. Additionally, the agreement outlined collaboration on security, the fight against organized crime, and a joint commitment to work towards peace and stability in conflict zones.

Agreement Between Somalia and Somaliland

The signing ceremony was overseen by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi. Past attempts at dialogue between the two parties, held intermittently from 2012 to 2020, had failed to make substantial progress.

The Djibouti agreement received positive responses, with Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of the regional grouping Igad (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), emphasizing the importance of peaceful dialogue in resolving difficulties among member states.

The British embassy in Somalia also commended the move, describing it as a “vital step towards reconciliation.” Somaliland, with a population of 4.5 million and a lengthy coastline along the Gulf of Aden, operates autonomously, issuing its own currency and passports. Despite its self-governance, international recognition has eluded Somaliland, leaving it economically challenged and isolated.

While the region has generally maintained stability compared to war-torn Somalia, political tensions escalated earlier this year, resulting in violent clashes between Somaliland’s forces and clan militias aligned with Somalia.

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