Somaliland: How to get Sool leaders to talk peace

Somaliland government has a moral and  legal obligation to prevent destabilisation in Sool, argues Liban Ahmad 

Informal  talks held in Hargeisa between Dr Ali Khalif Galayr, leader ofKhatumo “administration” and Yasin Haji Mohamud Hiir, Somaliland Minister for Interior, stand a better chance of strengthening talks between Somaliland government and Khatumo leaders. The Somaliland government organised informal  talks to give politicians from Sool the space and time  to thrash out  political differences.

It has become clear to people who attended the meeting and those who listened to  leaked clips of the talks that Dr Galayr views differences  as a political issue whereas Hiir looks upon issues as a public policy problem resolvable within the Somailandsystem of government.

Hiir: Loyal but confounded bySomaliland-Khatumo talks

Mr Hiir did not flesh out what it means to hold intra-clan talks under the auspices of Somaliland government. This ministerial ambiguity has contributed to Dr Galayr’s insistence on being the leader of an administration representing people inSool, Sanaag and Ceyn. For the talks to bear fruits  Sool political leaders need to agree on the following three principles:

1- Somaliland is the sole political authority with the legitimacy to exercise coercive power in areas under its control.

2- No group should resort to political violence to attain political goals. This principle is aimed at forestalling intra-clan hostilities and unfounded  claim for political representation.

3- Citizens’ rights rather than references to genealogy-based commonalities must guide the talks. Underdevelopment, lopsided security structures in Sool and unequal distribution of development aid can only be addressed without opportunistic attachment  to shared clan affiliation.

As the informal talks in Hargeisashowed, neither Galayr nor Hiir came to the talks venue with  clear political goals beyond claiming unquestionable representation privileges ( Galayr’sKhatumo platform) and conflating political and public policy problems (Hiir’s call for intra-clan talks but withinSomaliland political processes ).


Galayr: Somaliland downgraded talks to intra-clan tête-à-tête

Somaliland government has the means and expertise to help Sool leaders to formalise an agreement based on the three principles. One of outcomes of the ongoing Khatumo-Somaliland talks is decentralisation to be implemented soon. If Khatumo leader questions the authority of Somaliland government explicitly stated in Principle One, he should be reminded that, by agreeing to decentralisation,  he had accepted the legitimacy of Somaliland government in Sool.

By endorsing the three principles Galayr and Hiir will empower Somaliland government to resume the talks  with Khatumo with a view to holistically  address hybrid political and public policy problems in Sool. The key term of reference for  the long-standing  problems in Sool is: incomplete political representation. The main goal will be to generate inclusive political representation for  people in Sool within Somaliland.  Failure to reach an agreement can encourage forces bent on  destabilisation in Lasanod and other parts of Sool.  The Somaliland government has a moral and  legal obligation to prevent such a scenario.