On four occasions the president of Somalia Mr. Mohammed Abdillahi Farmajo has announced at different functions that he is ready to kick start the stalled Somaliland/Somalia talks that have been boycotted by the president of Somaliland H.E Musa Bihi Abdi.
From the outset the Somalia government was vehemently opposed to the tripartite agreement between multinational DP world and Somaliland including Ethiopia. The Somali government has engineered a confrontational attitude from different perspectives to make sure Somaliland does not benefit from the deal. It has partly succeeded since development projects the UAE government was implementing in Somaliland have stalled because of a vote by the Somalia hand-picked parliament.
The last time Somaliland and Somalia met for talks was in 2015, and then the talks were stopped prematurely because in the Somalia government delegation there were some Somaliland nationals. Somaliland government refused to talk with her citizens at the table and saw this as a ploy of Somalia to undermine her on the negotiation table.
The talks were put on hold by the former presidents of Somaliland and Somalia who were on their last leg of tenure so it was prudent for them to wait for elections so that the newly elected head of states to continue with the talks where they left.
It was hoped that the talks should start earnestly in March this year, however following the Somalia war on Somaliland the government of Somaliland decided to pull out of the talks. The president of Somaliland and his Somalia counterpart were expected to start talks in a third country, hence Djibouti was chosen as the talk’s destination.
The president of Somalia Mr. Farmajo recently bulged to kick start the Somaliland/Somalia talks following exerted pressure from the international community. He spoke in different venue his willingness to start the talks with Somaliland. A letter addressed to the president of Somaliland by the UN explicitly stated that it is ready to facilitate the talks.
Up to now we do not have official confirmation from the Somaliland government in response to the president Somalia Mr.Farmajo call to initiate with Somaliland.
The first question that comes to mind is that the Somalia president calls for a talk with Somaliland does it have any significance in terms of interest for Somaliland to commence the talks?
The answer is simply yes, the time is right for Somaliland to return to the negotiations table. Time has come for president Bihi of Somaliland to positively accept the calls from Somalia to begin the talks.
The talks at this time are very important for Somaliland when looked from different perspectives. Diplomatically the talks will eliminate the political suspense and will invite any party that is interested in the well being of the two sides.
The talks will open doors for Somaliland to negotiate her chunk of share for development aid that Somalia government is withholding will also be an opportunity for Somaliland to negotiate concerning the management of her airspace. It is a golden chance of Somaliland to initiate contact with other international partners. For now the pressure in on the Somalia government since Somaliland is unrecognized country.
It is important for a well thought venue for the talks and in this respect president Bihi needs expertise to come up with a neutral country to host the talks. Another thing to note is that the Somaliland delegations should go to the talks with well prepared propositions to negotiate the interest of Somaliland. Also the agenda of the talks should be prepared by intellectual who are averse with negotiation tactics and updated with how the world ticks in the 21st century. If Somaliland goes to the negotiation table well prepared fruitful results can come out of the talks.
It is important for the country hosting the talks must be a neutral one which will listen to the two sides in an impartial manner. Not only is the hosting country important, but also the arbitrators should come from different country that have a stake in the talks so that whatever comes out of the talks can could be implemented by both sides. The participating countries will act as witnesses of the deal that is signed by Somaliland and Somalia.
Diplomatically the talks are important because it will leave room for negotiation open, this will help Somaliland’s foreign policy to chart new ways forward. The country’s foreign policy has lost direction and needs to be navigated back to track.
Mr. President you have to come with a solid diplomatic agenda for Somaliland to start talks with Somalia a foreign policy that can pass the litmus test of verbal propaganda that is broadcasted through the media. You have to start the Somaliland/Somalia talks, but before hand you should come up with a comprehensive plan that can sell itself.