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Not the Right Time for Talks: BetweenSomalia’s Transitional Government & Somaliland

By Said A. Saryan
Thursday, April 26, 2012

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In the midst of incessant heart breaking barrage of ghastly bad news emanating from their motherland, the Somali public saw a ray of hope in last week’s announcement that Somalia’s Transitional Government (TFG) and Somalia’s Northwestern secessionist enclave (‘Somaliland’) will, after 20 years of silence, will engage in preliminary talks, as reflected in paragraph (6) of theLondon International Conference on Somalia, held on February 23, 2012.
However, to the dismay of the Somali public, who saw these talks as a major step towards the restoration of peace and unity to their long-suffering homeland, both the TFG andSomalilandstarted with the wrong foot and approached these talks in a casual haphazard fashion.
The TFG President, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, appointed a five-member Cabinet Committee, chaired by the Minister of Interior,Mr. Abdisamad Mallin Mohamoud, who in recentinterview with VOA’s Somali Sectionunequivocally stated that he personally supports the secessionist’s misguided goal to be recognized as an independent entity from the rest of the country. This quick appointment of this Committee was apparently conceived and carried out without consulting with the Prime Minister and the rest of his Cabinet.

Since that appointment a disturbing expose also came to light regarding Mr. Abdisamad’s past political relationship with the Hargeisa secessionist Administration. According to sources who attended the London Conference he was Sheikh Sharif’s emissary to the Silaanyo camp and did participate in several close-door Meetings with key officials from Somaliland.
In tandem with these dangerous missteps from the TFG camp, the secessionist regime put forth highly inflammatory pre-conditions, which smacks of arrogance and clearly indicates they are not serious in engaging in constructive dialogue with the Transitional Government but are going through the motion merely to satisfy the call of the British Government and then argue that these ‘Southerns’ are not ready or capable to engage in a meaningful dialogue. Therefore, it is time that we are recognized. The selection of London for the venue of the Meeting gives credence to this possible scenario.
One of the key roadblocks Somaliland already erected is that they want to roll the clock back to 1960 and re-negotiate, as the apparent sole custodians and heirs of British Somaliland Protectorate, the Act of Union with the defunct former Italian Somaliland, while at the same time are unabashedly pretending that the one-Clan regime speaks on behalf of all communities inhabiting the former British Somaliland Protectorate, including the four non-Isaq clans who are overwhelmingly against secession.
To advance this frivolous proposition they are also objecting to the inclusion, in the TFG negotiation Committee, of officials hailing from the Northern Regions of Sanag, Sool, and Awdal. While at the same time they are including two members from these pro-union regions among the five- members Committee they publicly selected to negotiate with the TFG on their behalf. It should be noted neither of these two Members have a mandate from their communities but are known to be flown around by the secessionists as props to deceive the International Community that all Northern clans support the secessionist cause.
In conclusion, whereas
Ø The initiave for dialogue was initiated by foreigners with their own Agenda and not but Somalis;
Ø The selected venue for the Somali dialogue is in London rather than in Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Garowe, or a cluster of acacia trees in the Hawd;
Ø A chaotic dysfunctional political climate is in place in Mogadishu today, where the Parliament is sidelined, thus removing any mechanism to scrutinize and positively influence the outcome of the TFG-Somaliland negotiation;
Ø The current TFG mandate will expire in less than four months;
Ø The three top TFG Leaders (the President, Parliamentary Speaker, and the Prime Minister) are not on working speaking terms, and each on his own is pre-occupied with how to get re-elected rather than with national strategic issues; and
Ø As reflected in their first opening steps, the secessionist regime, in collusion with some Regional Governments, see the chaos in Mogadishu as a golden opportunity to snatch recognition from the divided dysfunctional TFG
It is my humble opinion that it is NOT the right time for such monumental Negotiations which touches on the very social and political fabric of Somali society as well as the very continued existence of their country as a viable State in the Horn of Africa. The Somali people can not afford to gamble and squander an opportunity they were anxiously waiting for, for the past 20 years. The negotiation must be championed and led by them, not by Foreigners, with an agenda which is not necessarily in sync with those of Somalia.
Perhaps, as a first Phase and as an alternative to the foreign dictated approach to these negotiations, the Somali people should be given the opportunity to own the initiative and engage in real home-made dialogue inside the country, driven by century-old proven Somali traditional Conflict Resolution methodologies, managed by traditional leaders recruited from the across the country. I would go further and recommend that such initiative be led by expert Traditional Leaders fromSomaliland. In such settings, as a prelude to tackling issues pertaining to national unity and governance dispute, imagined or real, between two Somali clans or groupings of clans can also be discussed and resolved.
The outcome generated from this assembly of Traditional Leadership should then be shared with Religious Leaders, Civic Society organizations, and lastly with politicians for the sole purpose of moving the Recommendations forward to implementation stage, thus proclaiming the dawning of a new era of peace, justice, unity, and prosperity for all.
Perhaps such an indigenous alternate initiative can be kick-started by the soon to be announced post-TFG Constitutional Assembly’s nominating Committee, consisting of 120+ Principal Traditional Leaders from across the country. These notables should reach out to their counterparts in ‘Somaliland’, and askTann waa laynoo dhaamaa eh, Maxaa Talla Ah?(The current situation will lead us to nowhere. What is the Remedy?).
Some of my fellow Countrymen, who are understandably are disheartened and disillusioned, may call me a Dreamer! But at least I dare to Dream; rather than continue to be engulfed and embraced by constant nightmare of my country being rendered to shreds and my people to walking dead.

Said Saryan, aFree Lance Writer and a close Observer of Current Somali Affairs.
You may reach Said at: [email protected]


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