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The international community should not rush into recognizing the
government that comes out of Mbagthi talks
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International News

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Peace Talks

- Kofi Annan At The Somali National Reconciliation Conference

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Editorial & Opinions

- The international community should not rush into recognizing the government that comes out of Mbagthi talks.

- Educational Programme

- National Dialogue Is Overdue
- Statement Of U.S. Senator Russ Feingold Remarks For Africa Policy

- Are We Living In Rome? Is Janus Around?

- Sovereign States Rule... Or Do They?

- The Sovereignty Of Somaliland And Its Role In The Conflict Resolution Of The Region


The regional and international sponsors of the so-called
reconciliation talks on Somalia, being held at Mbagathi, Nairobi, are
obliged to take the necessary measures for addressing the deep
concerns expressed by the government and people of Somaliland over
the consequences that the outcome of the Kenya-hosted process might
have for their country’s sovereignty, peace, security and democracy.
Ignoring Somaliland's concerns would be a grave mistake by the
international community. Somaliland wants international guarantees
that the government expected to emerge out of Mbagathi would be a
government for Somalia (the former Italian colony) and not for
Somaliland (the ex-British protectorate).

The overwhelming majority of the people of Somaliland have already
opted for staying independent and elected their own government, at
both local and national levels, through the ballot box. Life under a
decade of freedom, peace, demobilization of militias, repatriation of
refugees and reconstruction is being celebrated in the country. This
is a long way from the environment of death and destruction that
prevailed in Somaliland for decades when it was subjugated by rulers
from Italian Somalia.

Somaliland’s proclamation of independence on May 18, 1991, was not
just a result of the collapse of Siyad Barre’s dictatorial regime
earlier in that year. As Somaliland’s voluntary merger with Somalia
in 1960 turned immediately thereafter into a nightmare, Somalilanders
have ever since been seeking to restore their independence. And when
this failed to materialize through peaceful means, including a 1961
country-wide boycott of a referendum on a retro-active Act of Union
and a failed coup de’tat by a group of Somaliland military officers
in December of the same year, Somalilanders revolted as of 1981 in an
armed rebellion against Barre’s largely southern occupation forces.
As government forces embarked on a policy of genocide against
Somaliland’s innocent civilian population, the international
community was not only silent about the atrocities, but many of its
members continued to provide direct military support and aid packages
both in cash and kind to Somalia’s military rulers. UN organizations
and other aid agencies also collaborated with the tyrannical regime
by feeding, sheltering and providing all types of social services for
hundreds of thousands of so-called refugees who were encouraged by
Siyad Barre’s government to leave their homes in Ethiopia’s Somali
region and come instead to Somaliland in order to chase out the
natives and replace them. The “refugee” camps were used by the
government not only as a reliable source of food, transport vehicles
and fuel for its army but also as inexhaustible recruitment centers
until the last days before Somalia’s forces were driven completely
out of Somaliland soil. Had it not been for the huge external aid
that they un-interruptedly enjoyed till the end, Somalia’s rulers
would have lost their grip on Somaliland at a much earlier stage to
the SNM-led popular resistance. By prolonging the life of the
dictatorship, the international community had contributed to the
slaughter of over 100,000 innocent civilians and the total
destruction of a whole country, not to mention the over one million
people who fled their homes to seek refuge in eastern Ethiopia and
elsewhere. It is just incredible that the international community
would want to add to its ugly past in this region by trying to
re-invent the old state of Somalia albeit one with a federal face.

Do the sponsors of the Mbagathi process realize the consequences of
conferring legitimacy on a southern dominated government and forcing
it on Somaliland? Until now, IGAD, the EU and UN officials attending
the Mbagathi talks, have stressed that the Mbagathi talks concerned
only the South’s warring factions. The stand of these international
bodies has been that once a government was established by the former
Italian Somalia, then Somalia and Somaliland would negotiate about
their future relations. But then none of the regional and
international sponsors of the talks has been willing to state
publicly that the post-Mbagathi government will have jurisdiction
only over Somalia and not Somaliland. On the contrary, the IGAD
mediators have since the launching of the final phase of the process,
been acting as though the anticipated government will be for a
Somalia that includes Somaliland. To the dismay of the people of this
country, IGAD has suddenly started accrediting some people as
representatives of Somaliland clans, while overtly inviting
Somaliland's traditional leaders to come to Nairobi. Moreover, IGAD
and its international partners are already busy mobilizing resources
for the post-Mbagathi order.

The international community must understand that any attempt to
eliminate Somaliland’s independence is a form of aggression that the
people of Somaliland are not going to tolerate. The backers of the
Mbagathi conference seem to be interested in washing their hands off
the process once a government has been inaugurated, while leaving
Somaliland’s position vis-ŕ-vis Somalia pending as an internal Somali
problem to be solved by Somalis themselves in the future. If IGAD,
The EU and the UN really want to avoid leaving behind a messy
situation, they should drop the idea of restoring the former state of
Somalia. Instead, they should concentrate on forming a government
for ex-Italian Somalia, a daunting challenge in itself. It should
also be made clear to the delegates attending the Mbagathi talks that
the legal status of the new government is to govern Somalia (the
south). Mr Kipligat and other IGAD arbiters need not waste time on
soliciting Somaliland individuals to join the Mbagathi Parliament as
this would only complicate things in the future.

It is no secret that many southern politicians are counting on the
arrival of aid in order to use it for conquering Somaliland rather
than using that aid for nation-building. Some of the people at
Mbagathi, Bosaso and Mogadishu are already hatching plans for
deceiving the international community into contributing substantial
amounts of resources for the building of an army that would be used
to commit aggression against Somaliland. Some of these schemes have
innocent-sounding names such as the restoration of Somalia’s police
force and demobilization of armed militia. The international
community must be very careful with the aid it intends to provide to
the post-Mbagathi process. The process should have mechanisms in
place that stand in the way of any efforts by the new government to
use externally-provided support for undermining Somaliland.

The international community should also learn from the mistake it
made when it gave the TNG quick, unearned and unjustified
recognition. By conferring recognition on the government to emerge
from Mbagathi before it begins talks with Somaliland, the
international community would undermine any chance of such talks
being held and enhance the probability of war and conflict. A
sensible approach to the question of recognition would be either to
recognize both Somaliland and Somalia or wait until the two have
reached a settlement on the status of their future relations.

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