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January 16, 2013

Some work of the Greatest Somali poet, Mahamed Ibrahim Warsame ‘Hadraawi’ translated into English

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Some work of the Greatest Somali poet, Mahamed Ibrahim Warsame ‘Hadraawi’ translated into English

Poet Hadraawi

Greatest Somali poet Mahamed Ibrahim Warsame ‘Hadraawi’ – We, in Kayd Somali Art and Culture, Redsea –online Culture Foundation and the Poetry Translation Centre take pride and pleasure to announce the publication for the first time of selected poems of the Somali master of wordsmith, Maxamed Ibraahim Warsame HADRAAWI along with their English translations.

Hadraawi has been recently awarded the prestigious Prince Claus Award for his immense contribution in creating brilliant meaningful poetry over the past 40 years. The presentation ceremony of the award by His Excellency Joost Reintjes, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands will be towards the end of February 2013. Our publication of Hadraawi’s work is primarily meant to register our acknowledgement and appreciation of his magnificent role in the promotion of Somali arts and culture. We nonetheless wish to highlight this felicitous occasion.

In this modest publication we have selected only eight of his huge literary treasure trove:

Hal La Qalay .. (The Killing of the She-camel)
Hooyooy La’aantaa.. (Mother’s Love)
Dhigaalka FarSoomaalida.. ( adoption of written script for my language)
Cajabey, Cajabey..( A love beyond compare)
Sirta Nolosha..(Life’s Essence)
Bulsho.. (My people)
Jacayl Dhiig Ma Lagu Qoray.. (Has Love Been Ever Written inBlood !

In honouring Hadraawi this is what the august Prince Claus Award Committee has said: He is honoured for “creating proud and beautiful poems that enrich and expand the centuries-old oral poetry tradition that is central to contemporary Somali culture and identity, for sustaining shared historical awareness and include discourse in divisive times, for his lifelong commitment to community development and social justice, and for building bridges, providing inspiration and promoting peace.”

Introduction to the book is by Rashid Sheikh Abdillahi (Gadhweyne), the English literal translations are by Mohamed Hassan ‘Alto’, and Said Jama Hussein. The English translations are by Dr. Martin Orwin, and the eminent poet W.N Herbert.

We finally wish to express our heartfelt congratulations to our great poet Hadraawi and our sincere gratitude to the Prince Claus Committee for its laudable service to our culture. For the fans and lovers of Hadraawi’s art, we conclude ‘ENJOY THE DAY’.

About the poet: Mahamed Ibrahim Warsame ‘Hadraawi’

Hadraawi is one of the most valued Somali poets and philosophers; he is often hailed as the most influential Somali artist of his time. His early work concerned love, and his songs were sung by some of the greatest Somali singers. As the political climate changed, so did his focus; his work began to address more social and political issues. He campaigned for the alleviation of social ills through his work under great pressure. To this day, Hadraawi continues to challenge social injustices.

Hadraawi was born into a nomadic family in Togdheer region of Somaliland and he was sent to Aden, Yemen, to live with his uncle at an early age. Hadraawi moved to Mogadishu in the late 1960s. During this time, most of his work focused, like most other poets at the time, on the theme of love. In these high days of romance, Hadrawi produced poems like‘Todobaadan Midhabley’ and songs such as, ‘Baladweyn’, ‘Jacayl Dhiig Malagu Qoray?’, ‘Hooyooy’, ‘Cajabey, Cajiibey’. One could write a whole book about each song and poem as they all have their own story. The songs of this era written by Hadraawi, have been sung by the greatest Somali singers like Hassan Adan Samater, Mahamed Mooge, Haliima Khaliif Magool, Mohamed Saleban and many others.

In the 1970s, Hadraawi’s artistic productions evolved to address more social and political themes. During this time Hadraawi co-wrote the landmark political play ‘Aqoon iyo Afgarad’ with the late Mahamed Hashi Dhama ‘Gaarriye’, Siciid Saalax and late Musse Abdi Elmi.

In 1973, Hadraawi was jailed for five years. Two years after his release, Hadraawi and his friend, late Mahamed Hashi Dhama ‘Gaarriye’ started the Deeley, one of the most significant political chain poems in Somali History, which divided over 50 artists, poets and thinkers in pro and against government camps.

In 1982, Hadraawi left Mogadishu to join the SNM opposition group which was based in Ethiopia. It was there that he wrote or popularized his main political poems such as ‘Dalaley’, ‘Hanbaber’, ‘Hargeysi ma Toostay’, ‘Bulsho’, ‘Sirta Nolosha’ and many others.
1992, Hadraawi produced ‘Gudgude’, which is regarded as a masterpiece by many of his follower. In this hundred lines long poem, he explains his motivations and aspirations.

That year is also the year he moved to London where he lived for five years. In these five years, most of his friends have asked Hadraawi to seek asylum and settle in the UK but Hadraawi declined. While in London, Hadraawi produced ‘Dabo Huwan’ which is based around an ancient word to describe ‘life’. The work he has since produced while in London offers many insights to his beliefs, which are clearly influenced by his Somali nomadic heritage and his faith.

In 2004, Hadraawi went on a peace march throughout different cities of Somalia ravaged by the civil war, to appeal for peace and to show his solidarity with those suffering. What was one-man’s walk became a march of tens of thousands of Somalis who followed Hadraawi from city to city.

The last two poems that Hadraawi published are, ‘Dhul Gariir’ and ‘Awaal Tiris’. In ‘Dhul Gariir’, he raises awareness about the situation of the Gabooye Somalis, condemning the ill treatment, discrimination and human rights abuses committed against the Gabooye people. The more recent poem, ‘Awaal Tiris’ addresses the hopelessness of Somali men who abuse the use of Qaat and the social implications that comes with that.
Hadraawi now lives in his home town Burao with his wife Hodan and teaches at the University of Burao

We are grateful to our partners and sponsors who made this publication possible such as Prince Claus and Dahabshiil Money Transfer Company.

December 31, 2012

“The Government of Somaliland congratulates its people on successful local elections” Press Release


“The Government of Somaliland congratulates its people on successful local elections” Press Release


The Government of the Republic of Somaliland welcomes the outcome of Somaliland’s November 28th local elections, our latest in a series of several presidential, parliamentary and local elections stretching back to 2002.

Following a successful period of peaceful campaigning and voting in which the country’s hard-won 21 years of stability was maintained, the election results have finally been tabulated and verified. We would like to congratulate all the local counselors, mayors and governors on their successes, while also commending those who have lost for respecting the results and maintaining the dignity of the country’s democratic process. We echo the praise of the international election observers of our people’s sincere commitment to democracy.

The government and the people of Somaliland would like to thank international donors, implementing organisations and election observers for again showing their commitment to assisting our country’s consolidation of democracy. Such financial and technical support was crucial to the peaceful and smooth completion of the elections, and we hope such support will only continue in advance of Somaliland’s upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections.

Our democratic path continues to stand out as a shining example of the democratic potential inherent to the peoples of the Horn of Africa and the continent as a whole, and we have seen encouraging progress in many areas, such as the increased participation of youth and women as voters and candidates and the use of the judicial system to resolve electoral disputes. But as democratic practices become further institutionalized, new challenges will unavoidably arise, and our people must be brave and spirited enough to learn from those challenges.

We therefore take heed and are prepared to address the recommendations of the international election observers to put in place a robust and effective voter/citizen registration system to guarantee the integrity of each and every vote. Our government institutions and civil society organisations are already exploring ways to make this a reality. We call on the international community to support these efforts.

With each passing election, Somaliland’s commitment to stability, peace, democracy and the fight against extremism becomes more evident. Underpinning this commitment is the Somaliland people’s belief that to compromise these values would be to not only undermine the country’s potential for development and growth, but also create a setback in the efforts of neighboring countries and the international community in reestablishing peace throughout the Horn of Africa.

Press Office Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation


December 3, 2012

AFP- Polls in Somaliland ‘transparent’: international observers

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AFP: Polls in Somaliland ‘transparent’: observers



NAIROBI — Local elections in the self-declared nation of Somaliland were “largely peaceful and transparent”, international observers said Monday, but noted concern at “weaknesses in safeguards against multiple voting.”

Council elections across the northern Somali region, a rare area of relative stability compared to war-torn southern Somalia, took place on November 28, with over 2,300 candidates contesting for 379 positions.

“We can cautiously report many positives,” the report read from the 50-strong international team of observers, organised by the British aid agency Progressio.

“Election campaigning appears to have been competitive and pluralistic, with seven different parties and associations fielding candidates.”

However, the team said there were some concerns, the most serious being an “absence of a voter registry, and weaknesses in related safeguards”.

That included inadequate indelible ink used to stain fingers of those who voted, making polling “vulnerable to multiple voting.”

Results are due in coming days, with the observers to release a further statement after that.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, won independence in 1960 but days later joined with Somalia. In 1991, after years of bitter war with the government in Mogadishu, it declared independence from the rest of the country.

While anarchic southern Somalia has been riven by years of fighting between multiple militia forces, Somaliland has enjoyed relative peace.


October 11, 2012

International companies to begin oil exploration in Somaliland

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International companies to begin oil exploration in Somaliland 

Hargeisa-Genel Energy and other international firms are moving ahead with plans to explore for oil in Somaliland, a development that officials hope will lead to prosperity and job creation in the region.

In early December, Genel Energy will start taking aerial pictures of Somaliland’s Togdheer region to look for oil deposits, according to Somaliland’s Minister of Mining, Energy and Water Resources Hussein Abdi Duale.

“The aerial search will be followed by oil exploration work, which will start in the beginning of 2013,” Duale said October 3rd as he welcomed a delegation from Genel Energy, which is headquartered in Turkey.

The company will use seismic vibrators to explore for oil and will then drill wells, he said. “This will be the first time oil is drilled in the country in 20 years.”

Duale said Genel Energy reached a working arrangement with Britain-based oil company Asante Oil, which had an initial agreement with the ministry to search for oil.

“Genel Energy’s role in this work will be 70%, and we are happy they will start this work in Somaliland. We hope that oil will be discovered in our country so we can prosper,” he said.

The delegation visited Burao, capital of the Togdheer region, on October 4th to assess the security situation for Genel Energy’s future office there.

Australia-based oil company Jacka Resources, Ltd. will also work with Petrosoma, Ltd., based in the United Kingdom, to begin aerial exploration at the end of October and will photograph 10,000 square miles, said Petrosoma’s information officer in Hargeisa Mohamed Elmi Abdalle.

Abdalle said they will transition to ground exploration in January, with the initial phase of the project costing $10 million.

Said Mohamed Elmi, chairman of the parliamentary sub-committee on environment and natural resources, said that a bill on Somaliland oil exploration will be presented to parliament in December.

The Ministry of Mining, Energy and Water Resources has reached agreements in the past few years with four other foreign companies that work in the mineral and oil sectors, Elmi said.

Opportunities for job creation

Abdirahman Aden Aar, an economics professor at Hargeisa’s Civil Service Institute, said he hopes oil production will help reduce Somaliland’s unemployment rate.

“It will enhance the country’s economy and will create jobs for unemployed youth,” he said. “This will in turn enhance the living conditions of society.”

“Not many people are educated in oil matters in the country now, so production will result in bringing in foreign experts from whom the few local skilled workers will be able to learn from,” Aar said.

About 1,700 young people recently graduated from national and private universities and are now looking for work, Aar said. “There is an imbalance each year in the number of work opportunities and those seeking work,” he said. “So [oil exploration] can be an opportunity for job creation.”

March 16, 2012

Somaliland Did Not Surrender Sovereignty By Attending the London Conference

Somaliland Did Not Surrender Sovereignty By Attending the London Conference

By Mohamed A. Omar, 16 March 2012

Mohamed A. Omar Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the Republic of Somaliland.


Somaliland is re-engaging with international diplomacy related to its neighbour, Somalia. Our country has received widespread praise for its contribution to the recent London Conference. This event represented an important milestone in Somaliland’s diplomacy.

We participated in the conference as an equal, and we laid out our views about how Somaliland can help build peace and stability in Somalia. We are very grateful to the British Government for convening the conference and for inviting us.

It was the first time that Somaliland had ever taken part in an international conference dealing with the future of Somalia. Prior to the conference, some of our people had expressed reservations about Somaliland’s participation, because they were afraid that our Government’s presence in London could be misinterpreted by our international partners as endorsing an eventual return to unity with Somalia.

I believe that our government decisively addressed this issue in our statement to the conference, in which we underlined our view that our declaration of independence in 1991 is definitive. Had we not attended, we would have missed an opportunity to share this view with 55 delegations, represented at very high level.

Given these sensitivities, President Silanyo consulted widely with Somaliland’s political and civil society leaders before deciding to accept the invitation to the Conference. It was important that there be a strong mandate from Somaliland’s two legislative bodies, the Council of Elders and the House of Representatives. In fact, these two bodies had to change our law in order for President Silanyo to attend. This process illustrates Somaliland’s democratic credentials and our culture of consultation. The overwhelming backing for participation in the conference is a mark of our people’s political maturity.

The conference also provided us an opportunity to lay out our ideas about how to bring peace and stability to Somalia. We believe that attempts to find a solution to the problem of Somalia based on the de jure boundaries of the state risk undermining the very stability which the international community is seeking. Furthermore, focusing energy on the re-creation of a centralized state through a top-down approach ignores the realities on the ground, and the decentralized nature of Somali politics.

Somaliland offers a useful example in this regard, as several countries noted at the Conference. Somaliland built peace and democracy through an indigenous bottom-up approach, drawing on traditional conflict resolution methods. We believe that a similar approach is needed in Somalia, and we have offered to share our experience with our brothers and sisters in that country. We would of course be in an even stronger position to contribute to a stable and peaceful Somalia if we were recognised internationally.

The Final Communiqué issued from the Conference also recognised the need for the international community “to support any dialogue that Somaliland and the TFG or its replacement may agree to establish in order to clarify their future relations.” We believe that this clearly supports our vision of a dialogue between two separate entities, which treat each other as equals. It will, I hope, mark a starting point for constructive discussions about our relationship with Somalia, including an acceptance by the authorities in Mogadishu that our voluntary union failed long ago, and that the future stability of the region is best served by accepting Somaliland’s independence.

A number of bilateral meetings between President Silanyo and Ministers from other countries took place in the margins of the conference, all of which were conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and equality. These bilateral talks provided us with the opportunity to discuss concrete ways in which Somaliland can cooperate with other governments to our mutual advantage.

While in London, President Silanyo also attended the launch of the Somaliland Development Corporation at the British Houses of Parliament. The Corporation will facilitate international investment in Somaliland for the benefit of the Somaliland people, circumventing the present problem of non-recognition by providing a transparent, accountable and enforceable means by which international investors can participate in Somaliland ventures. Somaliland was honoured that Minister Henry Bellingham attended the event. The launch was also well-attended by members of Parliament from all major political parties in the UK.

All of this demonstrates that we did not surrender our sovereignty by attending the London Conference. On the contrary, we asserted and reaffirmed our status as a sovereign and responsible regional partner, and in the process garnered significant diplomatic, economic and political support. We will build on this so as to promote further the interests of our people.

Mohamed A. Omar is Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the Republic of Somaliland.


February 25, 2012

Breakaway Somaliland entity targets investors

Breakaway Somaliland entity targets investors

Feb 24 (Reuters) – The breakaway enclave of Somaliland, which boasts oil and gas potential, has set up a UK-linked corporation to act as an entry point for investors concerned the Somali territory’s lack of international recognition would stop contracts being enforced.

On a visit to London to attend a conference on Somalia, President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo told Reuters that the purpose of the Somaliland Development Corporation was to “to attract companies and institutions which want to invest in our country.”

“Since we are not a recognised country, insurance is always a difficult problem in Somaliland so if this can help with that, it would be useful.”

Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 and has enjoyed relative stability compared to the rest of Somalia, including the holding of a series of peaceful general elections, but remains unrecognised internationally.

Silanyo did not indicate what economic sectors he wished investors to target. But energy and mining minister Hussein Abdi Dualeh said in November the northern enclave had hydrocarbon potential with a geology similar to basins containing 9 billion barrels across the Gulf of Aden.

A number of big oil companies with permits to operate there left what is now Somaliland in the late 1980s and declared force majeure during Somalia’s escalating civil conflict.

Several foreign banks have expressed interest in operating in Somaliland where they are keen to capitalise on its untapped market potential. Somaliland has no formal banking sector and its people rely heavily on remittances from diaspora communities in Europe, North America and the United Arab Emirates, as there are no ATMs or loan facilities.

A briefing paper distributed to journalists on the sidelines of the London conference said that despite Somaliland’s “achievements in stability and democracy, international donors cannot deal directly with its government, and foreign investors face uncertainty about whether contracts – the basis of secure business – can be enforced”.

The SDC circumvented the problem of non-recognition by providing “a transparent, accountable and enforceable means by which investors can participate in Somaliland ventures”.

A not-for-profit company had been set up in Britain to act as the founding vehicle, with Somaliland’s Minister of State Mohamed-Rashid Hassan and Britons Myles Wickstead, a former diplomat, and Jeremy Carver, a retired international lawyer, as founding directors.

The SDC is owned by an incorporated trust, the Somaliland Development Corporation Trust, the paper said.

Oil discoveries would be a cash boon to Somaliland though hydrocarbons have often proven to be a curse to African nations as the opaque nature of the industry can breed corruption.

Colonised by Britain while the rest of Somalia was under Italian administration, Somaliland declared independence in 1991 as the rest of the country disintegrated into anarchy.


February 16, 2012

Women Building Peace in Somaliland

Women Building Peace in Somaliland

G40 women leaders group from the Greater Horn of Africa High Level Mission in Hargeisa, Somaliland.  Kjell Magne Bondevik, the former Prime Minister of Norway and a member of the Club de Madrid, presided today over a round table discussion in Hargeisa (Somalia) to hear the recommendations for peace and security in Somaliland from the G40, a group of women leaders in the Greater Horn of Africa. 

Hargeisa, February 15th, 2012 – The G40 group, formed in 2009 as part of the Club de Madrid’s project, “Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security,” is comprised of representatives from women’s organizations and defenders of human rights. These women come from seven countries in the Horn of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somaliland, South Central and Puntland (Somalia), Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda.  Their goal is to work together to promote peace and security at a regional level.

The recommendations of the G40 summarize the strategic interests of women in Somaliland, and are directed towards the Somaliland authorities, religious leaders, the regional African Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and civil society. Recommendations included request for governmental gender-sensitive budgeting and a quota of 25 percent female representation in government structures and parliament, as well as committees of reconciliation and peace negotiations. The G40 recognizes the valuable contribution of religious and traditional leaders in the peace process and have urged these leaders to defend women’s rights and recognize the state of women´s rights in Somali culture and in Islam. Also discussed and included were G40 Recommendations recognizing the need to raise awareness of the negative effects of piracy and the consumption of chat, and highlighting the importance of maintaining a neutral stance on clan issues while peace negotiations are in process.

The Vice President of the government of Somaliland, the Speaker of the House, the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministers of Planning and Religion, the First Lady and the mayors of neighboring cities attended the round table discussion led by former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik. The discussions highlighted the importance of stability and peace for the maintenance of developmental processes and women’s roles as active agents in society.

Although considered a de facto State, not yet recognized by the international community, Somaliland has used a democratic process since 1991, which is a model of transition from the traditional clan system to a democratic, multiparty, and bicameral system. Since the last presidential election of 2010, the region has maintained stability and participatory development processes, making it stand out from neighboring regions. These trends are partly due to the high degree of government accountability to citizens, which stems from the purely local tax collecting system.

Nevertheless, this society still faces major challenges such as the absence of international recognition and foreign investment, high unemployment, low salaries for civil servants that could lead to an inefficient and corrupt system, lack of infrastructure, piracy and exploitation of resources, border conflicts and disputes of land ownership and violent extremism, which seem to affect all of Somalia´s regions.

The Club de Madrid´s project-sponsored trip to Hargeisa, titled “Women’s Leadership for Peace and Security,” was the ninth mission to take place since the project began in 2009 in the Greater Horn of Africa and in the Andean region. The mission was launched with support from the Australian (AusAID) and Belgian Governments, in conjunction with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS, South Africa) and Isis-Women International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE Uganda). Former Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik reiterated the project´s goals to those in attendance, emphasizing the need to encourage the participation of women and to recognize women’s contribution in the political process of peace building in the context of the international commitment to Resolution 1325 of the United Nations Security Council.

The Club de Madrid:

February 13, 2012

PetroTrans negotiates to extend Somaliland port

PetroTrans negotiates to extend Somaliland port

By Mark Anderson


Feb 13 (Reuters) – PetroTrans, a Chinese oil and gas producer could conclude preliminary negotiations with Somaliland for the extension of the key port of Berbera by the end of this year, but has scrapped plans to build a liquefied natural gas facility.

Philip Hirschler, a legal adviser for PetroTrans, said from London the firm planned to extend Berbera port’s container and mineral export services following an agreement it signed with the government of the breakaway enclave of Somalia last August.

The Horn of Africa has been attracting increased investments in exploration by foreign oil firms, due to its proximity to east Africa, where oil has been discovered in Uganda and natural gas found in Tanzania.

The Hong Kong based company had planned to build gas pipelines from the field and at least two trains and LNG tankers for possible export of the product.

“Some of the project that was initially proposed such as the LNG facility, could not go into Berbera because it would be impossible to get any insurance on the facility,” Hirschler said.

“We’re still talking about (developing) a container port, a dry cargo port, and a mineral export port, once there’s sufficient minerals development in Ethiopia or further west.”

Ali Omer Mohamed, General Manager of Berbera port, told Reuters he expected the completion of preliminary negotiations with PetroTrans on Berbera’s extension by the end of this year.

“I expect studies, contracts and agreements to be finished this year,” Mohamed said.

PetroTrans signed four petroleum exploration and production sharing agreements with the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines in July 2011, paying $130 million for the rights to explore Blocks 3, 4, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17 and 20 in the Calub and Hilala Gas fields in the country’s eastern Ogaden region.

Somaliland is an internationally unrecognised state that declared independence from Somalia in 1991, and hopes the deal will create thousands of jobs, raise its profile and attract more investments into the region.

Hirschler said PetroTrans had approached neighbouring Djibouti on whether it could build an LNG facility there, but discussions were still in an early stage. Djibouti serves as a port for its landlocked neighbour Ethiopia.

Hirschler said PetroTrans was also negotiating with South Sudan’s government to build an oil pipeline from South Sudan oilfields to the Port of Djibouti.

South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan last year, said on Thursday it was considering building an oil pipeline through Ethiopia and Djibouti. South Sudan produces about 350,000 barrels of oil per day and exports via Sudan to a Red Sea port.


February 9, 2012

Call to recognise Somaliland

Call to recognise Somaliland

Godfrey Bloom MEP

UKIP MEP, Godfrey Bloom has called for Britain to recognise the state of Somaliland.

Speaking after the Africa Minister Henry Bellingham, dismissed the issue at the London Somalia Conference this afternoon at the Chatham House. Bloom said, “For 15 years the people of Somaliland have shown that a stable multi-party democracy can exist in the Horn of Africa. We owe them the decency of recognition for their toil.

“The country is characterised by regularly contested pluralist elections. It has a decent and trustworthy legal system. It is free trading and peaceful.

“For goodness sake,” he said, “it even locks up pirates when it gets hold of them. If we believe in self determination, which this government swears it does in the case of the Falklands and Gibraltar, then why on earth do we not accept the clear and present desire of the Somaliland people for self determination?

“The Commonwealth now accepts countries with no links to the UK, yet Somaliland was a British protectorate and isn’t allowed even to be an observer at the tables of the Commonwealth. It is a sick charade.

“If we are serious about helping the peoples of the Horn of Africa to develop, and live in peace with each other and the rest of the world, then maybe, just maybe our Government should have the courage an, honour and gumption to admit Somaliland into the ranks of the nations of the world.”

February 7, 2012

London conference “an opportunity” for Somaliland

Filed under: NEWS — somaliland247 @ 7:05 pm
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London conference “an opportunity” for Somaliland

HARGEISA, 7 February 2012 (IRIN) – More than two decades after it unilaterally asserted its independence from the rest of Somalia, Somaliland plans to lobby hard at a major conference in London in February for something it has sorely lacked since its inception: international recognition of its sovereignty.

“Somaliland will attend because 44 nations will be there and those are the ones we need to lobby and explain why Somaliland should be recognized; we see it as an opportunity,” Abdillahi Jama Geeljire, Somaliland’s Minister of Fisheries and Ports, said.

The London Conference, hosted by the UK government, is expected to bring together “senior representatives from over 40 governments and multi-lateral organizations… with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia”, according to a statement posted on the website of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Geeljire said: “Somaliland was invited on equal terms with those nations that will participate; it is a golden opportunity for our country and will give us the exposure we need to present our case. It will provide Somaliland with the opportunity to share with our Somali brothers our experience and how we achieved the peace and stability we enjoy today and they are searching for.”

The larger Somalia has been embroiled in conflict since 1991 and has not had a functioning central government since then. One of the aims of the conference is to help pave the way for a permanent administration to replace the transitional one whose mandate expires in August.

The meeting’s agenda, which does not include the question of Somaliland’s sovereignty, covers issues such as root causes of Somalia’s conflicts, counter-terrorism, piracy and humanitarian coordination.

Mixed reactions

Somaliland’s attendance required overturning a legal ban on participating in such international meetings. During a 5 February joint session of the bicameral parliament in Hargeisa, 101 legislators approved the change, with just three voting against it.

“It is a mistake and we should not be there [at the London Conference],” said Ahmedyassin Sheikh Ali, one of the MPs.

Ali said Somaliland had thrived in the past 20 years “because we stayed away from those conferences [about Somalia] and we should have done the same this time around”.

He said parliament’s decision was a “mistake equal to the one we made in 1960” – when the momentarily independent Somaliland, previously a British territory, chose to merge with the rest of Somalia, which had recently gained independence from Italy.

Ali added the best outcome from the conference would be a decision by the representatives of Somaliland “to reject any decision that will in any way drag us into the Somalia mess.”

Mohamed-Rahsid Muhumud Farah, a veteran Somaliland journalist, told IRIN the conference should be about the Somalis talking directly to one another. The London Conference, he said, was a stage “where the UK government will dictate and the Somalis will have very little say”.

“The only conference Somaliland should attend should be one where Somalis talk, whether they agree to separate or reunite does not matter, but they should be talking,” Farah said.


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