Authorities in Somalia’s separatist region of Somaliland have abruptly pulled out of proposed dialogue with TFG of Somalia after President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed included two Puntland ministers in the dialogue committee he appointed last week, Radio Garowe reports.
Somaliland Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omar told a press conference in Hargeisa said that Somaliland would not hold talks with the TFG as long as Puntland officials remain on the committee.
“The dialogue should be between TFG and Somaliland. We see no reason for involvement of Puntland ministers, who hail originally from Somaliland regions. So Somaliland will not engage in these talks,” said Minister Omar.
Somaliland’s foreign minister went on to add that the appointment of the “two additional ministers from Puntland” had a hidden agenda. Minister Omar claimed that President Sharif “originally appointed five TFG ministers and then issued a second list with seven ministers, including two ministers from Puntland.”
Somaliland Minister Omar claims that Puntland Interior Minister Abdullahi Jama Ilkajir and Puntland Planning Minister Daud Mohamed Omar are “from Somaliland regions of Sanaag and Sool.” Sanaag and Sool regions, etched between Puntland and Somaliland, are claimed by both Puntland and Somaliland. In the past, Puntland and Somaliland have fought pitched battles for control over Sool and Sanaag regions.
Mogadishu media reported TFG President Sharif appointed a 7-member committee chaired by TFG Interior Minister Abdisamad Moallim Mohamud. The committee includes two Puntland ministers and is mandated with facilitating dialogue between TFG and Somaliland, as recommended by the London Conference of February 2012.
Puntland Planning Minister Daud Mohamed Omar responded to Somaliland’s claims during a BBC interview on Friday. Minister Daud said: “Puntland is part of Somalia and shares land with Somaliland so it is very important that Puntland is part of the dialogue.”
Minister Daud continued: “Puntland is a state in Somalia and is entitled to representation but Somaliland officials for whatever reasons want to discontinue dialogue and they should rethink their decisions.”
Puntland’s minister said “Somaliland fears being held to account for the killings, looting and displacement of civilians in Las Anod area.” In March, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole declared that TFG-Somaliland dialogue that excludes Puntland is “illegal and unacceptable.”
TFG officials led by President Sharif have not yet responded to Somaliland’s decision to pull out of proposed dialogue.
UN Special Representative to Somalia Augustine Mahiga landed in Hargeisa on Friday and has reportedly held a meeting with Somaliland officials over their decision to cancel proposed dialogue with the TFG committee.