Somaliland: Who Should We Believe The President or The Minister?

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By: Hornnewspaper Staffer

HARGEISA – In May the Turkish government extended an invitation to the Somaliland government to participate in The Istanbul Conference on Somalia which was held in Turkey from 31st May – 1st June. The invitation was extended to Somaliland as part of an autonomous region of Somalia proper.

The Somaliland foreign minister, Dr. Mohammed Abdillahi, had rejected the Turkish invitation out of hand on grounds that it was detrimental to the sovereignty and independence of Somaliland.

The minister said: “The gist of Istanbul Conference is the Somalia Roadmap and the Draft Constitution and does not concern us [Somaliland]”. Yet few days later, he attended and participated in the same conference that he was publicly criticizing, claiming that the Turkish government had changed its mind so as to accommodate Somaliland’s special requirements regarding its independence and sovereignty. Again, he said the Somaliland delegation would only attend Day One of the conference which was mainly concerned with economic development and will not attend Day Two of the meeting which mainly about Somalia’s Draft Constitution and the so-called Roadmap. Yet, the minister participated in Day Two of the same conference in spite of the protestations of his colleagues. He was seen proudly sitting in front of a wall painted with Somalia’s map depicting Somaliland as part and parcel of Somalia. As has become his habit, the minister says one thing, and does another.

Few weeks later, on 26 June, the 52nd anniversary of Somaliland’s Independence Day, president Ahmed Silanyo said: “This anniversary reminds us of our history as Somalilanders. We reassert that the future of Somaliland’s sovereignty and independence cannot and will not be negotiated”. This was in direct contradiction of the minister’s actions.

On the occasion of 20th Anniversary of the Reclamation of Somaliland’s Independence on 18thMay 2011, president Silanyo said unmistakably, “Even if our quest for [diplomatic] recognition as a state takes a hundred years, our sovereignty and independence will still remain non-negotiable”. However, a week later on 26th May 2011, the foreign minister had given an interview to The United Arab Emirates based The Khaleej Times in which he said “we can negotiate [with Somalia] about the other issues [whether] to be [an] independent state or becoming a [federation] like the United Arab Emirates”. Yet again, this was a clear and direct contradiction between the president and his minister. Neither the president nor the minister has made an attempt to set the record straight.

More often than not, the president and his foreign minister are not talking on the same frequency when it comes to Somaliland’s foreign policy vis-à-vis Somalia, which is why this government is facing credibility problems.

The public is confused about these apparent contradictions between the president and his minister.

There is an obvious question that needs to be asked of Silanyo, but the media hasn’t asked it: Who should we believe you or your minister?

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