(Medeshi)- The next round of talks between Somaliland and Somalia in Istanbul, due to start on Sunday (March 1) after a couple of days postponement, appear to have been postponed again.
The Somali Federal Government delegation led by Interior Minister Abdirahman Mohamed Odowa and the Somaliland delegation led by Foreign Minister Mohamed Bihi Yonis arrived in Istanbul at the weekend. However, Foreign Minister Mohamed Bihi told the BBC’s Somali Service that Somaliland would not participate in the talks while the Somali delegation included members who hailed from Somaliland. They would only talk to a delegation composed of people from southern Somalia. He also told the BBC that Somaliland’s bid for independence would be featuring at the top the agenda in the course of the dialogue. A statement from the Office of the Somali Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, on Monday said that it was unfortunate that “our brothers from Somaliland failed to come to the negotiating table” as they came up with conditions that presented a challenge to continuing the dialogue.
The Prime Minister’s statement said neither side had the right to dictate to the other party; the issue, the statement said, was “violation of previous agreements and international standards of negotiations.” Somaliland’s State Minister for Presidency, Hirsi Ali Haji Hassan, in turn, accused the Somali government of irresponsibility. Turkey has been brokering rounds of talks between the two sides since 2013, and last December, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo signed a further agreement under the auspices of Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh emphasizing the significance of the talks and agreeing both sides should refrain from any remarks and actions inconsistent with the dialogue process.