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Interview with Republic of Somaliland foreign minister

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Mr. Abdulahi Mohamed Duale is the foreign minister of Somaliland. Mr. Duale had also served as finance minister.The foreign minister spoke to Getachew Nigatu about the current situation in Somalia and Somaliland.




Recently, Ethiopian trade office in Hargessa and UN offices there had become targets of terrorist attacks. Who is responsible for the attacks? And can you tell us about the investigation?


Somaliland suffered a serious terrorist attack unprecedented in the Horn of Africa. The government is doing its best to apprehend those responsible for the attack and bring them to justice. We have no doubt that Al-Shabab is behind those attacks.


The terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Shabab in the name of Islam are unacceptable. Islam is not about suicide and killing others. Islam is a peaceful religion; it doesn’t condone the killings of civilians. We are Muslims. The government of Somaliland is combating terrorism. We are working hard to bring the terrorists to justice.


How strong is the relationship between Ethiopia and Somaliland?


The relationship between Ethiopia and Somaliland in very much strong, beyond what anyone expects. Our president, Mr. Kahin, maintains constant contact with PM Meles Zenawi and discusses bilateral issues. I, too, work closely with my Ethiopian counterpart Seyoum Mesfin and his deputy Dr. Tekeda Alemu. The two countries cooperate on trade, diplomacy, security and democracy. The relationship between the people of the two countries is based on mutual respect.


Ethiopian Airlines has suspended its daily flight to Hargessa due to security concern for the time being. Our government shares this concern. Ethiopian Airlines has never flown to Somalia for business. But it has been flying to Somaliland for years. We are proud of that. Not only Ethiopia but also South Sudan can use the port of Berbera in the future. The fact that Ethiopia’s interests and UN offices were attacked is an attempt to attack Somaliland itself.


Peace has eluded Somalia for the past 17 years. What is your assessment of the current situation is Somalia?


We feel sorry for our Southern brothers. We think that we can share our experience with them on how we achieved peace. The international community must still give big attention to Somalia. The politicians in Somalia could not see or act beyond clan politics. The international community has made efforts to bring peace to Somalia. You can only take a horse to the river but you can’t make it drink. The world had repeatedly tried to bring the different factions to peaceful negotiations. Somali leaders couldn’t do anything for their people. We feel sorry about that.


The Somali transitional government and others in the former Italian ruled Somalia do not accept the formation of Somaliland. They always ask the international community not to give you recognition.


After Somaliland first declared independence from Britain, it willingly united with Somalia. This union brought us nothing useful. We had no peace when we were with the Southerners. We didn’t have any kind of big institutions then. Now we have five universities and five colleges.


Now there is peace and democracy. There are many development endeavours going on in Somaliland. The city of Hargessa is growing rapidly. The idea of building Greater Somalia was insane. The reason why Somalia’s flag had five stars was to express the dream to rule Somali speaking people from five countries, i.e. Italian Somaliland, British Somaliland, French Somaliland (Djibouti), Ethiopia and Kenya under one flag. That is a nightmare.


So we took ourselves out of this nightmare and established our own country. But they didn’t wake up from that dream. There is no way that we will unite with Somalia in the future. What we want to advise our southern brothers is that if they want to build a stable country, they should abandon the Greater Somalia dream.


They should abandon the five-star flag. The five Somali speaking people will never be united. Somalia went to war twice with Ethiopia and once with Kenya. It was an exercise in futility. They have to open up their eyes. They should not dream of uniting with Somaliland. Somaliland is a sovereign country. We are very poor. Our annual budget is not more than USD 55 million. But we have built a peaceful and stable country.


A peace initiative has been taken by Djibouti. Although there are hopeful signs, there are also frustrating conditions?


It is the wish of the government of Somaliland to see the successful completion of the peace process. We wish success to the Djibouti initiative. But the peace process will be successful if all parties agree to accept the independence of Somaliland. All of them have to understand that Somaliland is now a sovereign country, and that the people of Somaliland have made a choice to live separately from the rest of Somalia.


We are ready to talk to any administration in Mogadishu which is willing to accept our sovereignty. But if Southern Somalis could not establish peace among themselves, it doesn’t mean that Somaliland’s peace, security or recognition by others must be held hostage. We are not hostage to the chaos in Somalia. The world must recognize this fact. Let them know that Somaliland’s internal peace and security will not crumble as a result of pressure from forces in Mogadishu.


It’s been more than a decade and half since you asked for international recognition. Is there any hope that you will get that recognition?


Somaliland is doing everything it can to get international recognition. One is that we are trying to achieve economic development, build democracy and show the world what kind of order we have built. The second thing is to intensify our diplomatic effort to secure that recognition. A lot of countries are giving attention to us. For instance, the African Union (AI) is closely working with us. Former AU commissioner Alpha Oumar Konare had sent a delegation that visited four of our provinces. He showed us that he is truly a son of Africa.

He presented our case to the AU Summit in Sirt in Lybia. Currently, the AU is closely monitoring the situation in Somaliland and Somalia by assigning a special envoy. This encourages us. Africa has lost something because it failed to engage Somaliland. There is a lot that Somaliland can contribute to Africa.


Which country do you think should recognize Somaliland first?


We will be very happy if any country gives us recognition. When the government of Bangladesh was first established, it was the neighboring country, India that first recognized it.


Nations unite and separate. Somaliland’s case is no different. African leaders have a moral obligation to recognize Somaliland. Because they have failed to do that, Somaliland citizens who live under reign of democracy and peace are facing problems. History will judge in favour of Somaliland people. The leaders should open their eyes.


We believe that one smart African leader will break the taboo and give recognition to Somaliland. How long should the Somaliland people be denied recognition?


Because we have no recognition, we couldn’t secure loans from IMF and World Bank.

If countries give recognition to us first, we can then become members of AU and UN. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and AU could not accept us as members because individual countries were reluctant to give that recognition.


What does the implication of lack of peace in Somalia mean to Somaliland? How much have you been affected?


If peace reigns in Somalia, everybody will benefit. What our Southern brothers have done has made them the laughingstock of the world. They plan to fail. If they plan to fail, they won’t achieve anything. They failed to aim to succeed. The reason why we beg the world to help Somalia is that if peace is achieved there, Somaliland will benefit, too.


Ethiopia is withdrawing its troops from Somalia after two years. What will be the implication for peace in the sub-region?


All Africans should thank the government of Ethiopia for its role in Somalia. Not only Africans, the international community should also be grateful for what Ethiopia has been doing.


Ethiopians have shed their blood for the sake of Somalia. Ethiopia has paid a lot of sacrifices in Somalia. The government of Somaliland holds Ethiopia’s role in special regard. Although Ethiopia has exerted a lot of effort to achieve peace in Somalia, the international community has failed her by not sending peacekeeping troops to Somalia.


The government of PM Meles Zenawi had contributed a great deal to Africa and the world. It has guarded the peace in the sub-region at least for the time being. Had Ethiopia not gone to Somalia, it would have been impossible to imagine what the extremists could have done. The region would have been in chaos.

If Ethiopian troops leave Somalia, the transitional government will face immediate danger. In my opinion, if there is no peacekeeping force in Somalia, a much more serious problem would surface in that country.

I can’t decide what Ethiopia should do. But in my opinion, Ethiopia’s withdrawal from Somalia will create a vaccum on an unprecedented scale. The result could be disastrous. But we can defend ourselves from Somali extremists.

If the government of Ethiopia decides to withdraw its troops from Somalia, there must be an orderly withdrawal. The international community shouldn’t be negligent. It must send in peacekeeping troops very quickly.


Pirates have endangered the international trade route off the coast of Somalia. What are you doing to limit the dangers that these pirates pose?


Somaliland has never been attacked by pirates, not even an attempt was made. We are closely guarding our coastline. The government of Somaliland has long experience in fighting pirates. There is no way that pirates can base their operations in Somaliland.


If the international community desires to learn how we successfully manage to control pirates, we are willing to share our experience. Piracy has become a real danger to international trade. We can cooperate with the international community to contain this danger.


The other secessionist Somali territory is the Puntland where some of the pirates have their base. What is your relationship with them?


We have some sort of relationship with Puntland authorities. For instance, we jointly patrol our common border. They are also trying to learn from our experience at forming a proper government. We want to cooperate with them because they are our neighbours, just like Djibouti and Ethiopia.


There is illegal human trafficking in Puntland. Many Somalis and Ethiopians lost their lives while they were being smuggled out of Puntland via the sea. As in any country, there are corrupt officials in Puntland whose activities endanger the interests of their country. They have to refrain from doing that. There is also illegal arms trade in Puntland. But that’s not the case in Somaliland.”


Western diplomats hail Somaliland’s democratic order as an example to the rest of Africa. You will also be holding the second presidential election shortly. Is there a possibility that you will face a post-election crisis just like other African countries?


We have created Somaliland out of nothing. The people are led by leaders of their own choice. Last time, the first presidential election was held. The opposition party claimed fraud in the election. But the number of votes that were allegedly rigged is only 80, even according to the opposition party. The case was taken to the Supreme Court which had the final say on the matter. All parties consented to the Supreme Court decision.


Currently the party in which I’m a member is administrating the country. There is real competition in our democracy. The ruling party has only nine more seats than the opposition in parliament. Although the ruling party could form a government on its own, it included opposition parties in the cabinet.


We make improvements to our democracy from time to time. Somaliland has a constitutional order. The fact that we avoided clan politics enabled as to get where we are now.

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What's your argument with Ibti, are you saying reer Buntland never supported the Col. Yey atrocities in the south?

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Originally posted by Poker:

Duale, Waran Cade and Ciro are the three most productive ministers in Somaliland.

Waran Cade has a long history of being productive even during Egal's administartion. In every ministry he headed, he made a remarkable change. Kudos to Waran Cade - nin daacad ah.


Mr. Ducaale, has been a minister since Somaliland was declared in 1991. He first became a minister in Abdiraxman Tuur's administration and then he served various ministries under Egal and now Ina Riyaale. Considering his long time in public office and the fact that he gets along with both opposition and administration very well and never caused a drama, seems to point that he is doing something good. And specially in the last two years since he assumed Foreign Affairs Ministry he has sharpened his skills very well. So kudos to Ina Dhoola yare.


I think Ciro is a useless man. The reason why terrorists striked Hargeisa is b/c this man has slept on the wheel. I would prefer Ismacil Yare any day. Ismaciil Yare was a tough man - nin shaqadiisa u daacada, although at times I didn't like his "show man" attitudes.


One of the underestimated men in Dahir Riyaale's administration is Minister of National Planning Ali Ibrahim (Ina Sanyare). He is an accomplished man. He was the head of the ILO (International Labour Organisation) for Africa, and has been acknowledged for his work there with the naming of the ILO main Africa H.Q. building in Arusha after him.

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Anyone seen former mayor mudane Cawl. He was true to his people. I wish we had more people like Waran cade and ducaale in SL government.


What has Jiciir done for Hargeisa?

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Cawl Cilmi Cabdalla is still in Hargeisa. Nin wax qabad badan ayuu ahaa.


Mayor Jiciir hasn't done much physical accomplishments but I think what he has done is to reform the Hargeisa local government system. I think the new system will take sometime until we see the benefits, b/c I think it is a good idea to decentralise the local government and give each district more power. I think what he wants to do is to move towards a system similar to first world cities where Hargeisa's 6 districts each will have their own Mayor and counselors and the Lord Mayor's job is only to coordinate tasks between district mayors.

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Jiciir hasn't done anything productive. He is more corrupt than any one else in Somaliland. That is all I can say about that man. I wish he just vanished. :D


I don't think it's fair to compare the job description of the internal affairs to those of Aviation or any other government sector in Somaliland. There is way more to be dealt with. I would give Ciro a C+. That is very high grade considering the current internal circumstances of Somaliand. However, I think Ismail Yare would have been a better fit.


The man I really love to see back is Abdilahi Dirawell. His attitude and personality alone will win you over. He's also very capable politician regardless. I hope he gets the chance to run for the highest office some day.



I heard Cawil is NOT doing well, health wise.

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Cawl Cilmi was the man in his days but he is not on the stage now for some reason.


Jiciir has done a lot but he is covered by the opposition's critics ,,, met him several times and he is educated and confident man.


I don't like Cirro though ,,, that guy is not included in my list.


Waran Cade, Cali Sanyare and A/lahi mohamed Du'aleh are the most three productive men sice they were appointed.

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