FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 15, 2013
UNSOM Political Mandate and Presence in Hargeysa Would Violate Somaliland Constitution, Sovereignty
The Republic of Somaliland welcomed UN Special Representative for Somalia Ambassador Nicholas Kay to Hargeysa on June 13.
Somaliland President Ahmed Mahamoud Sillanyo and Foreign Minister Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar met with Special Representative Kay to discuss ongoing efforts undertaken by Somalia and Somaliland to discuss the shape of the UN presence in Somaliland, as well as Special Representative Kay’s leadership of the newly established United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). The Somaliland leaders reiterated their government’s position that Somaliland is separate from Somalia, having declared its independence from Somalia in 1991, a position endorsed by its people in a referendum in 2001. Any UN presence or activities in Somaliland must take those facts into account.
Following these consultations, Foreign Minister Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar said, “We continue to welcome the United Nations in Somaliland, but request— as we have consistently requested in our ongoing consultations with the United Nations—that support be provided in a manner that respects our nation’s Constitution and democratic institutions, and without prejudice to a particular outcome regarding Somaliland’s future relations with Somalia, which can only be addressed in our ongoing bilateral dialogue .”
President Sillanyo and Minister Omar conveyed their government’s position – both in their meeting with the Special Representative and in writing – that UNSOM’s current mandate does not extend beyond Somalia, and that an UNSOM presence in Somaliland whose purpose is to implement this mandate would violate Somaliland’s Constitution and sovereignty, and is not in the best interest of Somaliland. While UNSOM’s mandate and purported activities are entirely incompatible with the situation on the ground in Somaliland, the government clarified that all UN humanitarian and development funds, agencies and programs continue to be welcome. A copy of the government’s letter to Mr. Kay (see below) was subsequently shared with other governments that have an interest in these matters.
Somaliland will continue to pursue dialogue with Somalia and advance the process begun at the February 2012 London Conference and continued when bilateral talks resumed in Ankara in April 2013. This Dialogue, which respects the independence of Somaliland, remains the principal mechanism for Somaliland and Somalia to clarify their future relations and cooperation, and will proceed in accordance with the terms agreed by the two governments in Ankara, Dubai and Chevening. Somaliland views the Dialogue as an integral component of international efforts to foster peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and continues to welcome the efforts of bilateral partners and the UN to support this dialogue.
The Government of Somaliland offered its strongest support for UNSOM’s efforts to re-establish peace and security in Somalia. It also welcomed future UN engagement in Somaliland that takes into account Somaliland’s unique status and its specific political and economic priorities.
Government of Somaliland
Subject: Position Paper
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General
United Nation, UNSOM
13 June 2013
Dear Ambassador Nicholas Kay,
I am grateful for your decision to visit Somaliland at such an early stage in your tenure as Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General. My government hopes that your appointment will result in a further deepening of the cooperation between Somaliland and the United Nations. To facilitate this, we would like to state our positions clearly and to share with you our views on how relations between the UN and Somaliland might best develop.
As you know, we are guided by the reality that Somaliland is independent. Our people decided in 1991 to end the voluntary union with Somalia which began in 1960 after we obtained our independence from Britain. That decision was endorsed in a referendum in 2001, and in subsequent general elections, in which our people have voted in favour of parties supporting independence. For the people and government of Somaliland, there is no going back. More importantly, it constitutes a contradiction to our constitution which states we are an independent country.
We understand that UNSOM’s political role is to rebuild a federal Somalia through a comprehensive and integrated international support, while it seeks to open a sub-office in Somaliland. This ignores the reality of Somaliland’s existence and functioning as an independent state since 1991 and the self-determination rights of our people. Since the purpose of such an office is to extend the remit of the federal government to Somaliland, my government is of the view that a UNSOM’S presences in Hargeysa will not be in the best interest of our country. Therefore, we can not allow UNSOM’S political office to function in Somaliland.
However, we wish to continue engaging with all UN humanitarian and development agencies, whose support to Somaliland’s development is much appreciated. We would like to see an increase in UN development assistance in line with Somaliland’s National Development Plan. This will allow Somaliland to consolidate its already considerable democratic and institution-building gains. It will also help us to retain ownership over our development path. But we ask that in order to address Somaliland’s specific needs adequately, the UN development programs should be managed from Hargeysa not from Mogadishu.
UN support for the consolidation of Somali federal government institutions should be undertaken with full consideration of its potential impact on Somaliland. The recent issue over airspace management clearly demonstrates the risks involved in forgoing a holistic, conflict-sensitive approach. We suggest that UNSOM should take all measures to safeguard Somaliland’s achievements in accordance with the principle of “do no harm”.
The Dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia provides a neutral, level playing field for the two governments to discuss cooperation on areas of mutual concern such as security, as well as to clarify their future relations, in accordance with the approach endorsed again at the most recent London Conference. The resumption of bilateral discussions in Ankara on 13 April was also welcomed by the international community at last month’s conference, and received strong support in the recent report issued by the UN Secretary-General.
Somaliland views the Dialogue as an integral component of international efforts to foster peace and stability in the Horn of Africa. There may come a time when your “good offices” may be needed in order to help us maintain momentum in the Dialogue, and we would welcome your assistance with this. We would like to emphasize that, from our perspective, the purpose of the Dialogue is not to negotiate Somaliland’s place in a Somali federal structure. Rather, the Dialogue should proceed in accordance with the terms agreed by the two governments in Ankara, Dubai and Chevening, and must respect the independence of Somaliland.
Finally, it is important to clarify that Somaliland views Somalia as a neighbour, and one with which good relations are crucial.
Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration.
Mohamed A Omar
Minister of Foreign Affairs