Sep 01, 2009

Somaliland: Negotiations are the Best Option

Sample ImageEthiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statement on Somaliland calls on negotiations between the Government and all political parties.

Below is an article published by Somaliland Press :

It’s been almost 20 years now since Somaliland had a functioning administration that can exercise effective control over a large part of the country for a significant length of time. Successive efforts at bringing together the various parts of the country as part of a working central government have all too often proved chimerical.

Although there are similar efforts currently underway under the auspices of the UN, the progress has largely been a far cry from the kind of effective administration that can be credited with ensuring sustainable peace and stability in the war ravaged country. While the responsibility to resolve the ongoing conflict in Somalia essentially rests on the Somalis themselves, Somalia’s predicament has been rendered even worse thanks in large measure to the unwholesome interference of some irresponsible parties which have relentlessly rooted for the further escalation of the scourge of war in the country. What the regime in Asmara has been doing the last few years is a case in point.

While the international community is accustomed to hearing of the continued carnage and a series of abortive attempts at reconstituting a semblance of functioning governance in Mogadishu, there have, however, been developments in some regions of Somalia that-though largely ignored by the international media-can serve as robust indications of the capacity of the people of Somalia to bring forth a functioning administration on their own. The impressive record that Somaliland has displayed over the last two decades in maintaining peace and stability as well as significant level of democratic governance stands out as exceptionally encouraging.

Today, Somaliland has a functioning self administration that not only exercises effective state powers of maintaining peace and stability within its territory; it has also managed-against all odds one should add-to put together institutions that have contributed to the achievement of a credible political process that deserves praise. In fact, what the people of Somaliland have achieved over the last decade becomes all the more impressive in light of the volatile security situation that has invariably been characteristic of the entire region. Quite simply, Somaliland has to all intents and purposes become an example of hope in a region beset by a whirlwind of violence. All along, it has required the concerted efforts and the political will of the administration, opposition parties, civil society organizations and the people to forge the kind of working political dynamic that obtains in Somaliland.

Ethiopia attaches great importance to the excellent relations it has with the Somaliland administration and it has always been supportive of the latter’s commendable political progress. Ethiopia’s goodwill towards the people and administration of Somaliland cannot and should not be viewed separate from its enduring faith in the importance of ensuring sustainable peace and stability in the entire sub-region. Somaliland’s success-no matter how impressive it may have been-should not be taken for granted, however. In a region where sources of misunderstanding and elements of discord have never been in short supply, even the slightest of missteps could potentially play havoc with the hard-won peace and stability that have characterized Somaliland.

The recent squabbles between the ruling party and the opposition over issues related with elections are thus things that need to be addressed immediately before they fester to become sources of much division in an otherwise peaceful political process in Somaliland. It is the fervent belief of the Government of the FDRE that the differences that have cropped up between the two sides can and should be addressed in a manner that ensures the credibility of Somaliland’s robust political process.
Despite the success that has been registered so far, the various stakeholders in Somaliland should take it upon themselves to do everything in their powers to further invigorate their institutions with a spirit of mutual trust and sense of responsibility. Of course, not even all of the mature democracies can boast having put in place a system that is foolproof to the tests of mutual distrust. While what its people have achieved is a source of pride and hope, there is an enduring legacy that should be borne by all stakeholders to see to it that the credibility and sustainability of their institutions are insulated from the kinds of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that have all too often ripped apart similar efforts at normalcy in other parts of Somalia.

It is also Ethiopia’s belief that, while the responsibility to seek ways out of the current impasse essentially rests on the parties and people of Somaliland, there are facilitating roles that can be played by Somaliland’s friends such as Ethiopia. It was therefore with this in mind that a high-level delegation led by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu spent nearly a week in Hargiessa as part of what will constitute a series of negotiations Ethiopia and other friends of Somaliland would help broker between the Government and the opposition parties. The delegation was satisfied with the level of goodwill displayed both by the government and the opposition parties.

The agreements that have been reached after a series of discussions with the two sides have been encouraging. The parties have expressed willingness to address their differences in a civilized manner. Somaliland’s friends have also expressed their commitment to help the two sides sort their differences out. It is Ethiopia’s hope that all the parties will continue their declared commitment to seek peaceful ways out of this impasse and to honor the terms of the understanding they have reached so far.

As stated earlier, sources of misunderstanding and elements of discord are far too many in the region. That Somaliland has managed to avoid a serious pitfall thus far is nothing short of a miracle, indeed. More importantly, the people of Somaliland has way too precious asset at stake-their hard-won peace and stability-to tinker-as it were-with less-than-civil courses. Only those who sincerely go for negotiated deals can carry the day after all.

Statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs