Kenya is on the verge of recognising Somaliland:
Somalia’s peace could be found in unlikely place
Kenya is on the verge of recognising the breakaway region of Somaliland and Puntland to get Somali warlords to silence their guns.
The two are breakaway regions and have enjoyed relative peace for the last 17 years eliciting view whether they should secede. The two are petitioning the United Nations and the African Union to be acknowledged as sovereign states; different from the other war-ravaged central region that includes the capital Mogadishu.
Kenya’s move is seen as one of the many efforts – spreading 20 years – to force the militia in Somalia to end fighting.
A delegation of Kenyan MPs that visited Hargeisa, Somaliland capital, on fact-finding mission after peaceful elections and change of power on June 26, have recommended that Kenya considers engaging diplomatically with the regions regarded as peace enclaves and semi-autonomous entities that have warded off insurgency, piracy, and terrorism.
The leader of the delegation, House Deputy Speaker Farah Maalim, told The Standard On Sunday the group’s report is likely to be debated in Parliament as an urgent matter of national importance given its security and economic implications.
“In the interest of regional peace, let’s engage with Somaliland. Somaliland has had peace for 17 years and there is a lot the larger Somalia can learn from the relative stability. They combat terrorism and piracy that have been a major threat to international security,” says Maalim, MP for Lagdera, which borders volatile Somalia.
However, the views of the delegation are unlikely to find favour in Mogadishu. Somali ambassador to Kenya Mohammed Nur told The Standard On Sunday that despite the two-decade old conflict, a unitary state is still the ideal situation.
“The problem Somalia faces today is that we have spent too much time in conferences that do not resolve the crisis. What we want friendly countries to do is provide the military and material support to beef up government efforts to restore peace and stability in Somalia,” says Nur.
Somali President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed Sharif kicked off an international campaign last week during his address to the United Nations General Assembly when he appealed for action to stamp out the violence in his country. Nur sees no sense in “more and more conferences”.
“It is the same message the president will be taking next week to another international conference in Madrid, Spain, that will address Somalia crisis. This is because we are aware the insurgents are threatening regional peace after the Kampala bombing,” says the Somali envoy.
In its report, the delegation recommends that the Kenya Government should develop a framework for limited engagement with Somali land to promote trade and enhance security in the Horn of Africa. “For those who are able to access education, Kenya should provide assistance because there are many idle youth. The delegations said there should be an international reward for stability,” says Maalim.
According to the report, lack of international recognition has negatively affected Somaliland, which cannot do business with other governments and multilateral organisations.
Now, says Nur, such assistance is available through the non-functioning and fragile Transitional Federal Government led by President Sharif.
UN and other friendly states can only provide humanitarian assistance such as food, shelter and medicine, often intercepted by Al Shabab.
Maalim says positive engagement would result in peaceful region influencing Somalia.
There should be a premium good governance, peace and political stability in the form of funding the operations of police, judiciary and the civil service, which are rather weak for lack of necessary skills,” he says. the Somaliland regime, despite limited resources, has arrested and charged 48 hardcore terrorists and pirates.
If the Kenyan Parliament approves the report, it will send a signal to the Government to engage and lead the campaign for the recognition of the Republic of Somaliland, as a full member of Inter- Governmental Authority on Development, the African Union, and the United Nations.