Talks between Somalia and Somaliland Sunday faltered as both sides differed on the course of the dialogue with President Muse Bihi pushing for a two-state solution in the dispute between Mogadishu and Hargeisa.
The talks which were chaired by Djibouti President Ismael Guelleh ended in the evening with two versions of brief communiques noting leaders of Somalia and Somaliland had delegated follow-up of the talks to technical committees.
There was uproar in the social media when the first communique from Djibouti government identified Somalia and Somaliland as ‘two countries’ before a second one was sent out referring the two only by names.
Addressing the meeting which was also attended by Ethiopian Premier Aby Ahmed and US ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto among other representatives, Bihi spoke in no uncertain terms that the meeting was between two states.
“Somaliland insists that dialogue should be two state process with substantive agenda that addresses the core issues of the dispute,” said Bihi.
Noting that the failure of the unity government in Somalia in 1991 forced Somaliland to exercise its inherent rights to self-determination, Bihi said Somaliland’s quest for independence was not an act of secession.
“Somaliland’s pursuit of independence is not a case of session but rather the dissolution of a voluntary union between independent states,” said Bihi.
He also expressed pessimism over the outcome of the talks noting previous engagements had not borne fruit.
“Today how can we proceed with this dialogue if the previous signed agreements in London, Istanbul, Accra and Djibouti were not implemented yet,” Bihi posited. “We cordially propose that a serious mechanism and a guarantor should be in place for this new round of dialogue.”
Addressing the meeting also, Ethiopia’s Ahmed called on President Mohamed Farmaajo and Muse Bihi to set aside differences for the sake of Somalia and the region.
“You have the power to shape the destiny of your people with genuine reconciliation, forgiveness and accommodation,” Ahmed said.
It also emerged that besides the self-determination question, the two sides had differences on management of resourc. es particularly international aid.
Somaliland has argued it should directly receive its share of foreign aid instead of it going through Mogadishu.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia and announced independence on May 18, 1991 following the overthrow of then central government headed by President Siad Barre.
In pitching his proposal Sunday, Bihi said Somaliland which ‘voluntarily joined Somalia’ in 1960 to form one nation had suffered from ‘atrocities and genocide’ from Somali government.
“The legacy of oppression against the people of Somaliland cannot be easily swept away,” said Bihi. “Rather they must be acknowledged and taken into account when considering Somaliland people’s right to self-determination and independence,” said Bihi.