It seems this government has a habit of putting one step forward and three steps back when it comes to the handling of Somaliland’s foreign affairs.
The debacle of the ammunition saga is one such misstep. We have all heard in the media the case of ship carrying ammunition was seized at Berbera Port, thanks to the good work of the customs and port authorities. It is after the seizures that boondoggle began.
The government rightfully called the seized items to remain in the possession of Somaliland authorities. International maritime law calls for illegal items to be held and auctioned off at the port of seizure. If it is to be believed, there was a vocal debate between the ministries of foreign affairs and interior.
The debate, we are led to believe, centred on keeping the ammunition or returning to its professed owner the government of Sudan. We shall return to the Government of Sudan in a moment. The winner of the argument was the Foreign Ministry which favoured the return.
Our erstwhile Foreign Minister was quite adamant on this point, quite ostensibly because he has quite a few friends in Khartoum and wishes to expand his business interests there. The fact that the Foreign Minister would put his own personal interests above those of the nation speaks volumes about where his loyal lies. It is a damning statement to be sure, but to return the ammunition and not adhere to international law, keep them for own security and fine the ship owners, lead to the conclusion that this was for Foreign Minister’s gain.
Apparently the Foreign Minister is not aware or has not put in any due diligence on the history between Somaliland and Sudan. For at African Union meeting in Accra Ghana in 2006 it was the Sudan that blocked, in fact left the meeting, when the issue of Somaliland was about to brought.
We invite anyone to Google that meeting. We have no greater diplomatic foe than the Sudan when it comes to our international status. You might say the Sudan had issues with South Sudan at the time and where a little reticent on the vexing problems of new nations, likely. It does not change the fact that Somaliland students in the Sudan pay full tuition fees, while students from Somalia are offered scholarships. A nation with such historical ties to Somaliland has now shown us its fangs and must not be treated with kid gloves.
The Foreign Minister’s platitude to and placement of the Sudan just goes to show the gigantic misstep by him and the realization why our diplomatic efforts are in the doldrums.
Alaa Mahad Leh
Long Live Somaliland
Hasan Mohamed Abokor