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Issue 473 -- 19th - 25th February 2011
Somaliland Contributes To International Conference On Somalia
By Phillip Barea
Addis Ababa, February 19, 2011 -- In a demonstration of good will, Somaliland representatives participated in a conference on postconflict reconstruction in Somalia that was hosted this week by the Wilton Park Conference organization in West Sussex, United Kingdom.
From February 7th to February 9th the organization invited guests from all over the world to discuss and propose strategies for Somalia´s transition to peace and postconflict reconstruction. For the first time Somaliland's Foreign Minister, H.E. Mohamed A. Omer, was invited to attend and represent Somaliland.
Speaking about Somaliland's invitation to participate, he stated that: “We see the invitation as recognition of the important role that Somaliland can play in regional affairs and as an opportunity to present our national views to the international community”.
Somalia and Somaliland Compared
In his formal address to the conference Foreign Minister Omer highlighted that indigenous forces as opposed to external forces explain why Somaliland was able to engage in a successful transition to statehood after the collapse of the Siyad Barre regime, but Somalia has not been able to do so.
He stressed the fact that while Somaliland's peace-building process and postconflict reconstruction developed internally through local initiatives, Somalia´s peace-building process and transition has been developed externally by competing international interests without locally formulated initiatives.
His Excellency considers that the indigenous nature of Somaliland's transition and reconstruction was the key to its success, and the international (outside and foreign) nature of Somalia´s transition and reconstruction has been the key to its failure. He stressed the need to diverge from “essentially western” models for this process and incorporate models based on the local culture and Islam.
In his conclusion he stressed the importance of using Somaliland as a possible model for a successful transition in Somalia and for its postconflict reconstruction. Foreign Minister Omer then reiterated Somaliland's commitment to being a responsible state that contributes to peace, stability, and development in the region.
Problems for Both
In a recent statement issued to Ezega.com, a government spokesperson for the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia expressed their dismay at Somaliland's efforts to engage with the international community and intention to remain separated from Somalia.
It is the position of the TFG that the success of Somalia's peace-building process (transition) and postconflict reconstruction depends partly on maintaining the territorial integrity of the state according to the pre-1991 map. However, many observers doubt the TFG´s ability to obtain this territorial integrity without the support and practical cooperation of both Somaliland and Puntland.
For example, the officially recognized government of Somalia currently only controls half of the territory of the capital city, Mogadishu; while the rest of the country is divided between Somaliland, Puntland, pirate organizations, clan militias, and militant Islamic groups.
For its part, Somaliland is not entirely peaceful and territorially stable either. Since its declaration of independence, the government has been continually unable to secure full control over both its westernmost and easternmost sectors.
For example, the biggest problem is in the Sool region to the east, which is also claimed by Puntland due to clan affiliations on both sides of the border. Just last week there were violent clashes in this region between a local clan militia and Somaliland soldiers. These clashes resulted in several deaths and many wounded individuals on both sides of the conflict.
Phillip Barea is Addis Ababa based reporter for Ezega.com. He can be reached by sending email through this form.