As agreed the two Presidents will hopefully be engaged in the talks that have started at the beginning of this year. The question is will the nomination of Fozia Haji Yusuf help or hurt the forth coming talks between Somalia and Somaliland The two leaders should sit face to face and engage in a serious talk. The venue of the talk is difficult to pinpoint right now, because Somaliland will possibly like the talks to take place in a friendly country. Somalia will prefer the talks to take place in Mogadishu, the capital city of the Federal government of Somalia. Let us assume the talks take place in Addis-Ababa or Dubai, a venue that could be acceptable to both. Let us discern then what will be the broad outlines of their discussions in relation to the nomination of Fozia Haji Yusuf Aden.
Mr. President we have been feverishly awaiting for an elected representative government to start the talks between the two sisterly countries. We started the talks between Somalia and Somaliland half heartily because the days remaining for that government were too short for any meaningful negotiation. There was also a pressure from the world community to begin a dialogue sooner than later. Now that the government we were waiting for so long has finally arrived and you are its elected President, we whole heartily welcome you and we like to start serious and final negotiations with you for we know the destiny of our two countries are intertwined. We can’t afford to postpone the final status of our countries anymore.
Thank you Mr. President and upfront I must unequivocally congratulate you on what Somaliland has achieved during the last 21 years. Your achievement is also ours because we are one nation. We have decided here in Somalia to put our house in order and with the help of the world community we are poised to achieve peace and stability very soon. Part of that strategy on my part is to form a lean and efficient government. I believe less government is better than more government and luckily the Prime Minister shares that view with me. We have nominated for the first time a woman from Somaliland to be the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister. I hope this nomination is a clear indication of our resolve for gender balance as well as an inclusive government. A woman from Somaliland takes the all important portfolio of Deputy Prime Minister for the first time since independence. The nomination also gives a hard knock to those who were talking about the “New Blood conspiracy” (Dum Jadiid). They said we will be opposed to women in government and we proved them wrong by putting not one but two women in two major portfolios of our government for the first time. I believe that is commendable and courageous act on our part. We decided not to do business as usual. The Federal government means business and together hopefully we will make a difference for our people and for our country. I want your support and rich experience to guide us in our efforts to a viable and sustainable State.
I am more than willing to support you but reciprocity and level playing field must not be overlooked in our relationship. I totally agree with you for a lean and efficient government. But 35 Ministers and Vice Ministers and 10 Ministries is not what I call lean government. By the way three strong men Ministers under the Lady foreign Minister, is it a backup system to support her. As important as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs might be, it is not a collection of Ministries like some of the other Ministries. It is a very novel idea nobody else tried before you. I hope you will succeed. But I agree it is a great leap forward for one of our ladies to take the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. Of not less importance is also the portfolio given to the other lady in your government who takes the responsibility of five Ministries… that is immensely a huge responsibility. I hope the plan will stick and there will be no hasty retreat from it. I totally disagree with you that justice was done to Somaliland with that nomination. Considering Fozia to be a Somalilander, you should not have nominated her to such a high profile position. We are sick and tired of you nominating runaways to responsible position in Somalia just to spike us. And by the way between you and me, don’t bring Fozia as a member of the negotiating team.
Fozia is an incredible woman; and she is a blessing to both of us. We should all be proud of what she has done in Somaliland. We expected her to do similar things in Somalia and in my government. Fozia rightly belongs both to Somalia and Somaliland and I hope she will be able to bridge the gap between our different mindsets. Through her we want to know the true feelings of Somaliladers towards Somalia as we believe that feeling could only come from somebody who genuinely belongs to both countries. It is my firm belief that she will only play a constructive role in both our negotiations and the relation between the two of us. Reciprocity as you said is extremely important and if your Foreign Minister becomes a member of the negotiating team, Fozia would definitely be involved as the Foreign Minister.
If Fozia started her political career in Somalia like many of our people who are still there with you, I would not mind. But Fozia started her political career in Somaliland and when she could not qualify to have a Union of her own, she openly declared that she will destroy Somaliland. Nominating individuals who are bent to destroy Somaliland to high places in your government is not fair. As far as the double citizenship and the double allegiance of Fozia are concerned, we believe one citizenship and one allegiance will override the other. Nobody has two hearts to love two equally. In that vein we believe at this time even if Fozia loved Somaliland that has been wiped out by the inability of her Union to qualify. From that perspective I firmly support her choice to drop Somaliland citizenship and opt for Somalia and thereby end the double allegiance to two countries at odds with one another. It is good for all of us. In that regard I respect your decision not to include Somalilanders in your government. It was a wise decision as we could only make an inclusive government after successful conclusions of our deliberations. Forming a Federal government before the Federation is putting the cart before the horse and that would have complicated our negotiations.
Mr. President disavowing of Lady Fozia’s citizenship will not stick. But if we concede to that, only to satisfy you, then we have every right to include her on our team. So make up your mind whether she represents you in my government or not. If you accept she does represent you; then I will not include her in my team, because that will create conflict of interest. But I will give you that important concession and I will not include her in my negotiating team, because the art of negotiations is give and take. On the other hand she is not alone here as one of the tree pillars of government which is the Judiciary branch is held by a genuine Somalilander unless you have a citizenship contest with that too. The other two namely the Executive and the Legislative branches are held by Somalia. That looks fair to me because we are not equal in size and in population.
We are negotiating from the position of two countries irrespective of their sizes. If your country is big, it is good for you. But I am content with the small size of my country and I want nothing more than that. I came here not to ask for more country or more population but to be able to remain what we are. On the question of the chief Justice’s position, definitely we have not nominated him to that position and therefore that position does not belong to us. If my government has nominated him, things would have been different. Logically your nominations can’t be mine. I have been elected to have the sole prerogative of nominating Somalilanders to all responsible positions anywhere in the world. Nominations outside my authority therefore do not belong to Somaliland and cannot be counted as such.
You sound as though Somalia and Somaliland are different people or different lands. We can very well add land to Somalia to become the land of Somalis, and then we have the same land and same the people. Think of that Mr. President. Now that you know where I am coming from, let us start the substantive talk about our relationship. I have every reason to believe that we will make significant progress. Let us now talk about the talk and resume the talk that has started with my predecessor. The file I have here indicates that your talks went very smoothly and there was a consensus on a confederation between Somalia and Somaliland. That is where we should start the deliberation today. From separation to confederation is a significant concession on your part. But you have only come one step forward however significant it is, I want you to go one more step so that we close the deal today and not tomorrow.
As a matter of fact, I have not conceded to that, but to tell you the truth that is as far as I could go with these negotiations. I have a firm believe that given this extremely important concession on our part, you will give similar concession to avoid failure of our negotiations. Any further concessions on my part will be counterproductive to our negotiations. I am willing to make that concession upfront to avoid tedious, fruitless and possible dead- lock. It is not in my nature to beat around the bush. Therefore I must tell you with all honesty that I can’t go any further than that even if I like to.
Mr. President you were elected to take care of Somaliland, but I am elected to take care of both Somalia and Somaliland. The responsibility bestowed upon me requires to be more responsive to the wishes of the people of Somalia and Somaliland. I am willing to go any extra mile to do that provided that does not infringe the responsibility I was elected. But luckily we are almost there Mr. President. You removed the major hurdle by accepting confederation. Only one minor step on your part will take us where we want to be. From confederation to federation is definitely within grasp. You are the only leader in Somaliland who can do that. If you can’t, nobody can. So take us out of this mess and come over to federation and let us proudly say; we did it because our people deserve it. On my part I can’t go beyond Federation even if I wanted to. My hands are tied by the constitution and the Holy Book I put my hand on. I also believe, if we don’t solve our problems, time will. And may be this time, time is on our side. I don’t say that with any malice, but every dog has a day. Don’t you think Somalia’s dog will ever had a day within 22 years? We have waited for that day for too long. We hope it is finally here. We have a lot of hope and you have done well over the years; let us put our new hopes and your old successes together and say… united at last…united at last and celebrate unity after more than two long disastrous decades.
By Omar Ibrahim Hussein (PhD).
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