By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – A team of negotiators is on the way to Turkey for dialogue with counterparts from the Somalia Federal Government-SFG.
The technical level talks slated for three days in the Turkish city of Istanbul is expected to propel the agreements reached during the last presidential level meeting in Ankara.
The Somaliland team of negotiators that includes government ministers and members of parliament is led by the Minister of Commerce and international Investment Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar who despite change from the foreign ministry still retains his position as chief negotiator with Somalia.
Other members of the Somaliland team of negotiators include Presidency minister Mr. Hirsi Ali Haji Hasan, Minister of Labour and social services Mahmud Garad and Members of parliament Bashe Mohamed Farah, Saeed Jama Elmi and Hildiban Hussein.
According to Somalilandsun sources the SFG team from Mogadishu will be led by the interior minister Abdikarim Hussein Guleid who together with Somaliland’s Dr Mohamed A Omar co-signed the Ankara Communiqué after a tripartite meeting hosted by the government of Turkey in Ankara last April.
The Somaliland delegation which departs the country in the early morning of the 6th July via Berbera international shall transit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa from where it shall depart direct to Istanbul.
Negotiations to be held for three consecutive days in Istanbul from 9th July 2013 shall be the first for the two sides to be closeted alone with members from the host country or other stakeholders in attendance since the talks in their fourth phase begun in London last year.
According to our sources the host country shall probably be represented on the final day of deliberations by its foreign minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu who was moderator during the April Talks.
The dialogue between the two formerly united in the now defunct republic of Somalia that collapsed in 1991 after Somaliland pulled out of the union and reclaim its sovereignty following a protracted civil war was sanctioned by the international community during the first conference held in London in February of 2012.
Following the dictates of the Feb 2012 London conference on Somalia communiqué urging the two countries to resolve the two decades long issue of Somaliland’s unilateral declaration of independence and Somalia’s insistence on unity the talks the first meeting at Technical level were held in at Chevening Manor house in London.
The talks the first in 21 yearsbetween the two sides that were hosted by the British government and witnessed by the Norwegian government and the European Union resulted in the eight points Chevenng Declaration that was subsequently ratified in Dubai.
The second phase in the United Emirates city of Dubai saw the somaliland president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo and his then Somali Counterpart Sheikh Sharif ratify the Chevening declarations through the signing of the four points Dubai Accords whose major import was a commitment by the two countries to continue dialogue.
The third phase was the April 2013 one in Ankara that saw president Silanyo meet for the first with President Hasan Mahmud who replaced Sheikh Sharif , thus participate in deliberations and witness the signing of the 8 points Ankara Communique together with the trio of Turkish leaders namely president Abdul Gül , Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign minister Davutoglu.
With the two sides on track to honour the 90 days promise for talk’s resumption and the arrangements for the two to meet in seclusion the outcome are highly anticipated in view of the fact that concurrence on my issues is mutual while a great divide in ultimate outcome of negotiations remains.
While the Government of Somaliland welcomes the commitment of the government in Mogadishu to the continuation of the Somaliland-Somalia dialogue the great divide between the two emanate from Somalia’s desire for reunification and Somaliland’s adamant stance that its sovereignty is not only non-negotiatiable but irrevocable as well.