Somalia and breakaway Somaliland agree to resume dialogueSat, 30 Dec 2023 14:31:22 GMT

Somalia and the breakaway region of Somaliland have agreed to resume dialogue to resolve outstanding issues, after long-running political tensions and years of deadlock.The deal signed on Friday followed two days of talks mediated by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, the first of their kind since 2020 when similar negotiations stalled.”After lengthy discussions, the two sides have agreed to resume the process of talks… with the focus on issues of national interest to reach a sustainable solution,” said a joint statement published by the Somali presidency.The northern region has been seeking full statehood since claiming independence from Somalia in 1991, a move fiercely opposed by Mogadishu and not recognised internationally.Somaliland has often been seen as a beacon of stability in the chaotic Horn of Africa region, although political tensions surfaced there earlier this year, spilling over into deadly violence.Under the Djibouti pact, the two sides agreed on a roadmap for talks in 30 days as well as collaboration on security and the fight against organised crime, and pledged to work together on peace and stability in conflict zones.The signing of the deal was overseen by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi.Previous rounds of talks between the two sides have been held on and off between 2012 and 2020 but failed to make any headway.The Djibouti agreement was welcomed by Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary of regional grouping IGAD, which Somalia joined in November.”(I) emphasise the importance of peaceful means and dialogue in resolving difficulties and grievances in all our member states,” he said on X, formerly Twitter.The British embassy in Somalia also hailed the move as a “vital step towards reconciliation” in a post on X.Somaliland, a region of 4.5 million people with a long coastline on the Gulf of Aden, is a former British protectorate. It prints its own currency, issues its own passports and elects its own government but its quest for statehood has gone unrecognised, leaving it poor and isolated.Political tensions surged earlier this year, leading to deadly violence between Somaliland’s forces and clan militias loyal to Somalia which challenged the authority of the self-declared republic.However, the region remains relatively stable in comparison to Somalia, one of the poorest countries on the planet which has witnessed decades of civil war and Islamist insurgency.