Minister Hirsi interview with Fred Oluoch of Kenya’s the eastafrican
Somalilandsun – The Somaliland Minister for Presidential Affairs spoke to FRED OLUOCH on the various challenges facing the self-declared independent state as it continues to be denied international recognition despite 22 years of relative peace and democratic leadership.
How has Somaliland managed to remain peaceful while surrounded by chaos?
Actually the secret of Somaliland is that people came together led by elders and decided that they will maintain peace.
One of the things that helped us is that the Somali National Movement (SNM), the rebel group that fought the regime of Siad Barre in the 1980s, constantly changed its leadership every four years through democratic elections; those democratic principles have been maintained since then.
Why do you think the international community has not recognised Somaliland 22 years on?
I don’t know why the international community is not recognising our declaration of independence because every person in the world has a right to self-determination. The people of Somaliland have spoken. Our people are determined to maintain their independence and it is up to the rest of the world to accept our position.
We have all the requirements of a republic — regular elections; working institutions such as the judiciary, the police and the army; we have maintained peace and security and the people have voted for separation in a referendum.
What do you say to the United Nations recent decision to turn over the control of Somaliland airspace to Somalia?
The UN is not ruling Somaliland, but it is an international institution made up of the international community. We have agreed to be part of that international community but their decision was not wise and it was taken without serious consideration of what is happening on the ground.
Somaliland has a functioning government that manages its land, air and sea. How can the UN say that our airspace should be managed by a government that is not yet fully operational and which cannot fully secure its borders, leave alone its airspace? But talks are going on between us and the UN and the mistake will be corrected.
What is the current relationship between Somaliland and Somalia?
We recently began bilateral talks on economic and security co-operation. However, they are yet to accept our Independence. Somalia should accept that the people have a right to self-determination.
We put this question to a referendum in 2001 and it is clear that people do not want to go back to the union. Somalia must lead the way in recognising us so that other countries may follow.
Why did Somaliland skip the London Somalia Conference held in May despite having participated in 2012?
Our president met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron, and it seemed that we did not have any role to play in as far as the conference was structured. It was basically concerning Somalia because the country’s president and prime minister were co-chairing the conference