Stalemate in talks between Somalia and Somaliland    

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (left) and his Somaliland counterpart Ahmed Siilaanyo (right) when they held talks in Ankara in April 2013. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is between them. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Somali Foreign Minister Khalid Omar Ali had described as “unfortunate” a statement from his counterpart from the self-declared Republic of Somaliland that his side will not agree to talks which are not mediated by the international community.

Mr Ali said that the two parties were all Somalis and thus there was no need for international mediators.

Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Bihi Yonis had been on a visit to Nairobi where he met international diplomats whom he urged to support international mediation between the two Somali entities – the Somali federal government and Somaliland.

He said that Somaliland will only sit with Somalia delegation if the talks are mediated by the international community.

Upon returning to Hargeisa from his Nairobi visit on Wednesday, Mr Yonis said: “We met with diplomats from the international community in Kenya, explaining our position and desire.”

But talking to Voice of America Somali Service on Thursday, Somalia’s Foreign Minister noted an “inconsistency” in Mr Yonis’s remarks, which he pointed out were initially facilitated by the United Kingdom.

“Since the parties talking on bilateral issues are Somalis, there is no requirement for foreign mediation,” he added.

London conference

Supporters of Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, four months after the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu.

However, the region has failed to attract recognition from the international community.

Some of the territories claimed by Somaliland like Sool and Sanaag regions are also claimed by Puntland and Khatumo, two self-styled semi-autonomous authorities in the northern regions of Somalia.

In February 2012, participants in an international conference on Somalia that was held in London agreed on the need for the international community to support any dialogue that Somaliland and the then Transitional Federal Government of Somalia may agree to establish in order to clarify their future relations.

In early March, scheduled talks between officials from the two sides failed to take place in Istanbul, Turkey.

Somaliland delegates refused to sit with the delegation from Mogadishu, saying that some of the federal delegation members actually hail from territory claimed by Somaliland in the north-western region.

But the Mogadishu delegation stated that Somaliland had no right to dictate who should be or should not be in their team.

Following the impasse, the two sides have been exchanging strong statements over the media.

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