June 21, 2012 ·31 Comments
Somaliland and Somalia negotiation teams in Chevening House in Kent, UK (Photo: HOL).
LONDON — The first formal discussions between feuding neighbours Somaliland and Somalia concluded on Thursday, with the two sides agreeing to an 8-point plan including future talks.
There has been no official breakthrough, but some progress was made during the last day of the technical-level meeting in the official guest house of Chevening House. Future dialogue, security, development and the transitional period topped Thursday’s discussions.
The UK and its co-hosts, Norway and the EU, said the aim of the meeting was to support the sides to “establish a framework for future substantive talks.”
A statement jointly issued by both sides said they have powerful reasons not to abandon the talks insisting on their commitment for future dialogue.
While a gulf remains between the two Somali states, points 3, 4, and 5 in the Chevening document under paragraph 5 have injected some optimism into a possible future dialogue.
In point-3 of the plan, the declaration and its participants have acknowledged the existence of two presidents and urged them to meet to “review progress as soon as possible”.
Point-4, has spelled out the need for the international community to facilitate talks between the sides including “providing external experts on legal, economic and security matters.”
Point-5 pressed the need for the two sides to cooperate in development and humanitarian aid with the international community. This might clear the way for the international community to finally assist Somaliland directly like the British government.
Despite the very wide gap, they were able to agree on issues such as combating piracy at sea and on land, toxic dumping, extremism and other criminal activities. The parties also agreed to support the end of transition in Somalia.
The host bodies have urged both sides to fulfill the promises they pledged during the London and Istanbul II conferences and this week’s Chevening House Declaration.
Dr Abdulsamad Mo’alin Mohamed, the TFG interior minister and head of Somalia delegates, said the talks have concluded with positive outcome. “The talks went for two intense days and to be frank, they have produced positive agreement and I hope we continue into the next phase,” he said.
Sources close to the Somaliland president Ahmed Silanyo said that he has welcomed the outcome and that he is keen on meeting with TFG president Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
The two are expected to meet sometime within this month in Dubai in the UAE for the first bilateral talks in two decades.
Held behind closed-doors, each side was represented by a five member delegation consisting of ministerial, opposition and members of parliament. Somaliland was led by its foreign affairs minister Dr Abdullahi Mohamed Omar and Somalia was represented by the TFG interior minister.
Here’s a summary of Chevening Declaration:
5 – The Participants:
Somaliland opposition leader, Faisal Ali Warabe declared the talks fruitful saying we must seek step-by-step strategy. “Like in mud we must try to free one leg at a time,” he said.
June 22, 2012Follow @somalilandpress