“Khatumo administration and Somaliland Government have shown political maturity and a will to unite the North under one political platform for future talks with the Federal Government”
Many political actors can lay claim to the milestone agreement Somaliland Government and Khatumo administration signed in Hargeysa in June. The former Somali President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and PuntlandPresident, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, are two of them. Had PuntlandPresident not insisted on federal representation privileges based on 1998 Puntland Agreement, Khatumo leaders would pursue the elusive goal to be recognised by the Federal Government of Somalia as federal member state – goal described by many as akin to chasing what Somalis call dhaandabaggaalle (a squirrel’s water caravan): mirage.
Last year, the former Prime Minister of Somalia, Omar Abdirashid A.Sharmarke, signed an agreement in Garowe with Puntland President to ratify the selection of MPs on 4.5 power-sharing formula. The agreement deprived Khatumo of five MPs it would have been able to select had the 2012 agreement been valid. The agreement between Puntland and the Federal Government introduced a dual-representation mechanism in ex-British Somaliland: disputed territories are represented federally in Mogadishu but administratively ruled in Hargeisa.
Dr Galaydh: No longer chasing “a squirrel’s water caravan”
The power-sharing Garowe Agreement closed the door on Khatumo’srepresentation privileges. It means Khatumo administration does not haveMPs in the Somali Federal Parliament and the Upper House. That was the silver lining in the cloud: Khatumo leaders decided to hold unconditional talks with Somaliland Government. In June Khatumo andSomaliland Government signed an agreement based on five articles. Article four stipulates the adoption of maamul-daadejin translated into English as decentralisation in one document and into devolution ( awood-daadejin) in the official agreement text released by signatories. This is a win-win agreement for Khatumo administration and SomalilandGovernment. In one stroke of a pen Somaliland Government committed itself to reversing the policy of relying on clan militias, who have become an albatross around its neck in Sool. Somaliland Government has sidelined the Minister for Interior, Yasin Haji Mohamud Hiir, who opposes the talks. Last week, Sool regional administration denied Khatumodelegation members the opportunity to explain the agreement to their LasAnod constituencies. The delegation proceeded to Erigavo, where it had received a warm welcome.
The decision of Sool regional administration to bar Khatumo delegation from holding consultative meetings in Las Anod contradicts the commitment of Somaliland Government to the success of the talks. Decentralisation will commit Somaliland Government to review its security forces in Sool before disbanding or demobilising Somaliland militias in the region. Earlier this year Somaliland Interior Minister held a meeting in LasAnod “in preparation for a subclan conference”. Somaliland Government acted on the advice of Khatumo President, Dr Ali Khalif Galaydh, to indefinitely postpone the conference backed by the Interior Minister until an agreement with Khatumo administration has been signed. In its place a more inclusive conference will take place in Bura’o as a part of Somaliland-Khatumo talks.
Somaliland Government had to choose between relying on unpopular militias with no a political power-base or negotiating with an organised opposition that has positioned itself as political representatives keen on substantive power-sharing deal with Hargeisa. Dr Galaydh has articulated a set of issues that Somaliland Government ought to address to makeSomaliland an inclusive polity in search of diplomatic recognition. The International Community could do well beyond calling for parties in the disputed territories (Somaliland, Puntland and Khatumo ) to end the political conflict that affects people in Eastern Somaliland, where aid workers cannot visit for security reasons. It can enhance its neutrality by supporting Khatumo-Somaliland talks. Khatumo administration andSomaliland Government have shown political maturity and a will to unite the North under one political platform for future talks with the Federal Government. Many people oppose the talks. Somaliland Government should mitigate the impact of possible failure of the talks. Sool MPs inHargeisa, who feel threatened by the new status of Khatumo, could resort to destabilisation strategy to maintain the security inequality in Sool. They have to be persuaded to take part in Bura’o conference and support letter and spirit of the agreement.