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An Open Letter To Hon. Muite Team In Somaliland
Mweshimiwa, I would like to draw your attention to some very basic principles that should guide your fact finding mission and eventual summative views. As you may have already been informed Somaliland has very persuasively sound historical, legal and political case that justifies her quest for international legitimacy.
What may not quite impress you is the comparative lowly developmental level of the country. But here, I should caution you to contextualize Somaliland's development level by taking the time to acquaint yourself with her politico-economic history both under the British colonial powers and subsequent Southern led governments in Mogadishu. Furthermore, such 'cultural' shock should both fact persuade you and your committee of magnitude of the unreported achievements acquired by the people of this invisible nascent democracy.
Kenya 's National Interest
That as it may, I have severally argued elsewhere, that Kenya's foreign policy as regards Somaliland should, as in any other external relation, be justified and based by Kenya's self interest. Although this sounds a bit undiplomatic, the crux of the matter should be a rational analysis of the benefit that Somaliland will bring to Kenya if Kenya was to promote her sovereign quest.
Having this in mind, it is crucial to start such a rational analysis with a re-examination of the arguments which have continually been employed to dissuade Kenya and other African countries from embracing Somaliland's reclamation of sovereign independence. Chief amongst the numerous arguments includes the overused OAU/AU principal of sacrosanct defence of inherited colonial boundaries and dissuasion of secessionism in the continent. Given the history of the secessionist Shifta in northern Kenya and the residual albeit resilient irredentism in Somalia as a whole, these factors are of weighty value to any policy emanating from Kenya.
However, I am sure you are aware of the basic legal and historical facts surrounding the formation of the union of Somaliland and Somalia at independence. These completely discount any equation of Somaliland’s sovereign quest to both the question secession and irredentism. In fact the opposite is the truth.
First and foremost, the union between Somaliland and Somalia was a de facto rather than a de jure union as it was neither confirmed by duo legislative approval nor positive referendum. And furthermore the union between the two countries was neither unique in the continent nor based on emotive factors absent in the rest of post colonial Africa. The cultural persuasions on which the union was formed fuelled the very irredentist conflict Kenya was forced into early on its independence and their emotive force are still potent and widespread irrespective of the perennial fratricide in Somalia.
Support for Somaliland's sovereign independence has been wrongly advanced as a contravention of the OAU/AU principals and as unnecessary promotion of secessionism in the continent. Even as concurred by the AU Fact Fining Mission to Somaliland, her case cannot be simplistically viewed through such a prism. Her case is unique and justifiable and thus cannot be equated by any existing or potential secessionist movement in the continent. Furthermore, Somaliland's sovereign independence will effectively render the resilient Somali irredentism that endanger both Ethiopia and Kenya void rather than promote it. Hence it is in the basic national interest of Kenya to recognize Somaliland irrespective of any existing diplomatic fad in either IGAD or AU corridors.
But you may rightly wonder why the Kenyan and for that matter even the Ethiopian governments have not grabbed such an opportunity. As an experienced legislator, I will not risk pontificating to you about the policy failures that characterized president Moi regime. From South Africa to Congo you are fully cognizant of the shambled regional policies that were pursued by the previous regime and which brought disrepute to the country. These were coupled by the complicating clannish interests that transcend the Kenya-Somalia border which are inherently anti-Somaliland independence. President Moi's use of tribal chiefs (in Somalia's case Rtd. Gen. Mohamoud, Yussuf Haji and their appointed cronies) to determine policies that went beyond Kenya’s border are well known to you. Sadly the same mentality is still prevalent in the current administration which has all but retained the entire political and administrative edifice at Old Treasury less the diplomatic corp.
Hon. Muite, I would kindly request you to use your position in Parliament to inquire from the government some salient questions regarding the government's diplomatic initiatives for Somalia which are yet to be asked in parliament. What benefits has Kenya acquired from expending over 2 billion of tax payer's money in the IGAD process that was later easily hijacked by the Ethiopians and which has since become non-starter. Would it have been far cheaper and more strategically beneficial to extend diplomatic recognition to Somaliland than spend 2 billion without a clear coherent policy goal? How can the government explain the well known manipulation of the process by the Ethiopians while they defrayed the expense? What are the rational of tying or even abdicating Kenya's interests and role regarding Somalia to Ethiopia? Does the government appreciate the significant diminishing of Kenya's diplomatic standing as evidenced by the repeated gaffes, sidelining as was the case of the New York Somalia Consultative Group, discussion of Kenya's purportedly failing status held between President Bush and Kikwete of Tanzania? When will the government realize that Old Treasury requires a complete policy overhaul?
But above all, I will be very glad if one of your team, requests a ministerial statement regarding the rational behind the government's reluctance to embrace Somaliland despite her strategic usefulness to Kenya's irreducible national interest of territorial integrity, national security and economic benefits? This will provide a very good platform to instigate a more thorough and rational debate on the government's policy thinking.
I wish you all a good stay in Somaliland and a successful trip.