21 January 2013

Somalia: U.S. Recognition of Govt Creates Political Storm in Somaliland

Hargeisa — The U.S. government 's decision to formally recognize the first Somali national government since 1991 has created a political storm in Somaliland, with government officials, parliamentarians, opposition figures and traditional elders publicly voicing their dissatisfaction with the U.S. announcement, Garowe Online reports.

Somaliland Interior Minister Mohamed Nur Arale Duur told reporters in Hargeisa that U.S. recognition of the Somali Federal Government, led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, is a "slap in the face" for Somaliland's pursuit of independence from the rest of Somalia.

"This U.S. recognition of the Somali Federal Government will not bring anything positive for Somaliland," said Minister Duur.

President Hassan visited Washington, D.C., last week where U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Washington officially recognizes the Somali Federal Government as the national government of Somalia.

'Silanyo failure'

Mr. Faisal Ali Warabe, chairman of UCID opposition party in Somaliland, told the BBC Somali Service this week that U.S. recognition of the Somali Federal Government hurts Somaliland's ambitions for international recognition.

"U.S. recognition of the federal government in Somalia, as a national government for all of Somalia, damages our [Somaliland] prospects for international recognition as an independent country," Mr. Warabe said.

Continuing, the Somaliland opposition leader suggested that U.S. recognition "will impact the proposed dialogue between the Somali Federal Government and Somaliland".

Mr. Faisal blamed the policies of Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo, whom he accused of "failure" in lobbying the international community towards Somaliland's independence cause.

'Withdraw from dialogue'

Mr. Awil Osman Mohamud Dawil, a member of Somaliland's House of Representatives and chairman of the House's social affairs subcommittee, told Somaliland independent newspaper Haatuf that the Somaliland administration should "withdraw" from engaging in dialogue with the Somali Federal Government.

"I call on the Somaliland government to withdraw from dialogue with the Somali Federal Government...Moreover, I call on the Somaliland government to return to Parliament the motion permitting Somaliland participation at conferences for Somalia," said MP Dawil.

In early 2012, Somaliland Parliament passed a motion introduced by the Silanyo administration overruling a decades-old law that banned Somaliland politicians from attending conferences for Somalia. President Silanyo attended the February 2012 London Conference for Somalia, marking the first time Somaliland has attended a conference for Somalia.

U.S. decision 'does not concern Somaliland'

Similarly, the chief of Somaliland's traditional elders, Sultan Mohamed Sultan Abdulkadir told the same newspaper Haatuf that the U.S. decision "does not effect Somaliland", saying: "The Somaliland people's decision is not controlled by the U.S. government, and neither the U.S. nor Somaliland government can change the people's decision."

Sultan Mohamed defended the public comments by Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, who stated that U.S. recognition of the Somali Federal Government "does not concern Somaliland".

In Puntland, another autonomous region in Somalia, a government press statement welcomed U.S. recognition of the Somali Federal Government. On Monday in Mogadishu, Somali Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon attended a demonstration held in support of the U.S. decision.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized internationally.

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