January 11, 2020
James Swan, Special Representative for the United Nations Secretary-General, on a visit to Somaliland expressed hope that the Republic of Somaliland would continue fostering understanding and dialogue with Mogadishu and in the respect of freedom of expression, among other issues of concern to the international community.
Mr. Swan, speaking to the press after a meeting closed off to the media with His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, stated that he hoped Somaliland will actively foster initiatives aimed at continuing the sputtering dialogue with Somalia.
“The United Nations welcomes initiatives in building mutual confidence and fostering dialogue between Hargeisa and Mogadishu,” he said.
Clearly highlighting specific areas for cooperation between Somalia and the Republic of Somaliland, in a departure from the usual general directives to talk and talk, Mr Swan pointed out that there were grounds that could be developed for the benefit of the peoples of the two Somali nations and the region in general.
“We believe there are many areas in which greater cooperation could improve security, promote economic growth and improve the lives of the people,” he said.
Perhaps, responding to the criticism that the UN and other major international partners maintained an unequal and much-clipped aid development to Somaliland, the SRSG pointed out that there were 16 UN offices, alone, operating in Somaliland supporting diverse programmes across the spectrum.
“The United Nations maintains a full-time office in Hargeisa and implements a wide range of programmes to benefit the people of Somaliland,” he stated, adding that the United Nations was ‘committed to continuing United Nations engagement with Somaliland and there are many programmes in support of its people. There are sixteen United Nations offices, agencies and programmes active in Somaliland”.
Echoing another area of concern, following meetings he had with political parties and other key figures and agencies during his visit in Somaliland, Mr Swan underlined the importance of Somaliland observing pillars to a strong democracy among which were the freedom to express views and to association.
“We call on the Somaliland authorities to ensure freedom of speech and assembly as well as the ability of political parties to organize and function. Such political space is essential for credible progress,” he said.
He, also, reiterated the internal community point of view that nothing short of holding much-delayed elections by 2020 was acceptable.
“We encourage rapid progress to complete all necessary steps for Somaliland to hold parliamentary elections in 2020,” he said, urging that points proposed by the mediation committee and in subsequent inter-party talks be honoured and implemented.
His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Yassin Mohamoud Hiir, who first addressed the press after the meeting with Mr Swan was concluded, stated that the President and other members of the government present clearly tabled the Somaliland view on peace with neighbouring Somalia, dispensation of development aid and with the possibility of continued talks with recalcitrant Villa Somalia.
“We asked the SRSG to convey to the Secretary-General the message that the Republic of Somaliland has fully and commendably mastered security and development of its country whether it be its maritime, land or airspace for the past 30 years; that Somaliland is fully in control of its sovereignty, stability and all of its interests,” he said.
Professor Hiir added that they briefed the SRSG that Somaliland has resolved all of its internal differences and has reached a degree of improvement in stabilizing issues with neighbouring Puntland of Federal Somalia.
The Foreign Minister stated that the President quite clearly voiced the country’s view of a perceived unequal aid development dispensation keeling over in favour of Somalia at a great degree.
The underlying Somaliland message to UN and other international delegations visiting the country was, perhaps, best portrayed by one commenter’s image as:
With His Excellency, the President at the meeting were the Vice President, Abdirahman Abdullahi ‘Zeili’i, Professor Hiir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Dr Saad Ali Shire, the Minister for Finance Development and a former foreign affairs minister.