BAIDOA, May 6, 2006 (Somaliland Today)- There was uproar from the parliamentarians of the Embaghati-formed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) on Friday after they have learnt Ethiopia had sent an ambassador to Somaliland.The parliamentary business of the day was overshadowed by angry MPs who wanted the prime minister, Mohamed Ali Gedi, and his foreign secretary to clarify the special diplomatic status conferred upon Somaliland by Ethiopia. Neither the prime minister nor his foreign minister was available to answer these questions at the time.
At least three MPs reacted angrily to this new development. One of them, Mohamed Abdi Yusuf, a former communist and confidant of the ousted Somali dictator, Mohamed Siyad Barre, said, “We took an oath to preserve the inviolability of Somalia’s unity and territorial integrity and therefore cannot accept Ethiopia to divide the Somali state. This is absolutely a violation of the international law and contrary to the norms between nations”.
“The flag of Ethiopia is flying above Hargeisa today,” cries Abdullah Boos Ahmed, a renegade MP who hails from Erigavo, Somaliland. “The diplomatic representative that Ethiopia has sent to Hargeisa is a veteran diplomat. He was a former ambassador to Finland. We need a clarification from the Prime Minister and foreign minister on this matter”.
Prime Minister Gedi read a statement in the parliament on Monday, saying Ethiopia did not send an ambassador to Somaliland. Gedi attributed the statement to the Ethiopian government but a spokesperson for the Ethiopian foreign office swiftly denied issuing any such statement.
The Ethiopian ambassador, Wubeshet Demmise, was received by Somaliland president Dahir Riyale Kahin on April 29. His arrival in Hargeisa was hugely welcomed but contrastingly triggered a political commotion in Baidoa- the temporary seat of the TFG where authorities there interpreted the sending of an ambassador to Somaliland as a step closer to recognition. Ethiopia does not however officially recognise Somaliland but the relationship between the two countries has been steadily improving ever since the Berbera corridor was opened- a major catalyst for trade and economic development between the two countries.
The TFG has no country to rule and has no permanent base from which to function, yet it is recognised by the international community. Conversely, Somaliland enjoys a relative peace, stability and a functioning administration throughout much of the country. Nevertheless, at fifteen years old Somaliland remains unrecognised.
“I cannot possibly understand why our brothers [the TFG officials] are so sickened to death by our relationship with Ethiopia,” said Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud, the Chairman of KULMIYE, the leading Somaliland opposition party.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in May 1991 and declared independence from Mogadishu. The overwhelming majority of people there no longer desire to have any association with Somalia.
An AU fact-finding mission to Somaliland between April 30 and May 4, 2005 concluded its report, "The fact that the union [Somalia and Somaliland] was never ratified and also did not work to satisfaction while it lasted from 1960 to 1990 makes Somaliland's search for recognition historically unique and self-justified in African political history. As such, the AU should find a special method of dealing with this outstanding case”.
Somaliland has introduced democratisation process in its quest for statehood. In May 2001, a new constitution establishing a multi-partly electoral system and the independence of Somaliland was approved by referendum. Municipal elections followed in December 2002 and a fiercely contested presidential election was held in April 2003.
In September 2005, Somaliland’s transition to multiparty democracy was formally completed when elections were held to an 82 member Parliament. Since then, international interest in Somaliland has grown noticeably.