Kenya should back Somaliland's quest for recognition

HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — A Kenyan parliamentary delegation visited Somaliland last year and was led by Farah Maalim, the Deputy Speaker of the Kenya National assembly.

The aim of the delegation was to study the economic, political and humanitarian situation in Somaliland. They were to report their findings and recommendations to the Speaker of the National assembly who, if he approved their report, would transmit it to the House Business Committee for allocation of parliamentary time for the House to debate it and make a decision. The report is before Parliament awaiting debate and approval.

This was not the first Kenyan parliamentary delegation to visit Somaliland. Between December 19 and 26, 2006, Mr Paul Muite, led a Kenyan parliamentary delegation on a fact-finding mission to Somaliland, at the invitation of its leadership. The initiatives are a reflection of positive obsession by the people of Somaliland to achieve recognition by the international community as an independent and sovereign state among the international community of nations.

Lack of international recognition has negatively affected Somaliland. The Republic of Somaliland cannot do business with other governments and multi lateral organisations.

Nor does the government of Somaliland have access to the kind of bilateral and multilateral financial assistance that would assist in the reconstructions and the development of the country.

The absence of international banks has tied the hands of Somaliland private sector. Bedsides foreign investors are reluctant to do business in a country where the validity of their agreement with the government is legally questionable.

Uncertainty

Somaliland travel documents are not valid for international travel and this adversely affects businesspersons, students and scholars. Majority of Somalilanders in the Diaspora are reluctant to return home under conditions of such uncertainty.
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The Maalim delegation has made the recommendation that the Kenya government should develop a framework for limited engagement with Somaliland to promote trade and enhance security in the Horn of Africa. Kenya has provided this regional leadership in the creation of the Transitional Federal Government for Somalia and in the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that settled the Sudan conflict.

The indigenous homegrown strategies which have brought reconciliation, peace and stability in Somaliland can provide lessons from which Kenyan, Igad and AU can learn and adopt and apply to Somalia to end hostility and war.

The delegation acknowledged in their report to the Kenya Parliament the accomplishments of the government and the people of Somaliland. These include the consolidation of civil administration which now covers 90 per cent of the country’s disciplined arm, police force and a stable currency.

The government and the people of Somaliland have consolidated democracy through a multiparty electoral system and creation of viable and accountable democratic institutions. If Parliament approves the report of the parliamentary delegation, it will send appropriate signal to the government of Kenya to engage with Somaliland and to lead the campaign for the recognition of the Republic of Somaliland as a full member of Igad, AU and the United Nations.

Complex crisis

Kenya should lead the way in open and direct engagement with the Republic of Somaliland. The security of Kenya has been complicated by piracy in the Gulf of Eden and the Indian Ocean and this has direct bearing on international trade and peace in the region.

Kenya should use its immense influence in Igad and AU to put pressure on Somalia to renounce the notion of “a Greater Somalia” and Somali expansionism through the recognition of Somaliland.

This would offer a lasting solution to the complex crisis in Somalia and in the north-east region of Africa.

By Peter Aringo
—The writer is a former Alego Usonga MP.

Source: The Standard (Kenya), 17 April 2010

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