Appointing Obasanjo as its high representative is part of the African Union’s drive to promote peace, security, stability, and political dialogue all over the Horn of Africa region, Moussa Faki Mahamat says.

The African Union (AU) has appointed Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo as its high representative for the Horn of Africa’s region.

“This decision is part of the African Union’s drive to promote peace, security, stability and political dialogue all over the Horn of Africa region,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, said in a statement on Thursday.


“Specifically, the High Representative will intensify engagements with all relevant political actors and stakeholders in the region towards entrenching durable peace and stability within the Horn of Africa.”

The Chairperson of the AU Commission highly appreciated Obasanjo for accepting what the AU said was for “this strategic political assignment in the collective interest of the continental bloc.”

AU Appoints Obasanjo High Representative For Horn Of Africa
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union

Read also — Report: AU Fact-Finding Mission To Somaliland Says Recognition Overdue

“The former Nigerian leader brings with him very rich political experience, and impeccable credentials of keen commitment to the lofty ideals of Pan-Africanism and regional integration and cooperation, as well as a deep knowledge of the current situation in the Horn of Africa,” the statement said.

The new appointment comes as the volatile Horn of Africa region experiences conflict and crises.

An ongoing nine-month-old civil war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has spilled over to other regions of the country.

Billene Seyoum, the spokesperson of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office, on Thursday told reporters that the Tigray conflict, which has spread to Afar and Amhara regions, has led to almost half a million people being displaced.

Obasanjo’s appointment also comes as Somalia and its international partners have failed to curtail a new rise of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group insurgency.

Born on March 5, 1937, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, South-Western Nigeria, Obasanjo served as president of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, from 1999 to 2007.

Mr. Obasanjo has also been involved in international mediation efforts in Angola, Burundi, Namibia, Mozambique, and South Africa.

In 2008, the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed Mr. Obasanjo as his Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, where he has played an integral part in mediation efforts in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Horn of Africa consists of the internationally recognized countries of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somalia, as well as the unrecognized country of Somaliland.

AU Appoints Obasanjo High Representative For Horn Of Africa
ormer Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, here pictured with Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi, is the first African president, past or present, to visit Hargeisa on May 5, 2019. (Photo: Somaliland Presidency)

Obasanjo vs Somaliland

“A place that has made something out of virtually nothing” is how former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo describes the progress made by Somaliland.

He visited Somaliland on May 5, 2019. Obasanjo, along with a delegation from Johannesburg-based think-tank Brenthurst Foundation arrived in Hargeisa at the invitation of the country’s president, Muse Bihi Abdi, according to the presidency.

His trip to Somaliland was the first by an African president, current or past since Somaliland restored its independence in 1991.

“Somaliland has achieved as much as it has,” says Obasanjo “because it has depended on itself.” But now, for its economy to prosper it needs to resolve its international status.

Explaining his view why Africa was turning a deaf ear on Somaliland restoration of independence and its vision as a sovereign country – again, he said, there were many examples within the African continent where many countries had issues with internal movements for separation, and that Africa was afraid of encouraging the trend if it seriously considered the Somaliland case.

“You have to package and market your case in such a way it was acceptable to the rest of Africa,” he said.

Mr. Obasanjo made it clear that even as a vast friend of Somaliland he could only take the case of Somaliland at a certain level which he cannot go beyond. ‘The rest is up to you. Package and market it,” he said.

Mr. Obasanjo urged that Somaliland must continue on the path of dialogue and negotiations but should stop short of sacrificing what it cherished most.

Olusegun Obasanjo was a career soldier before serving twice as his nation’s head of state: He served as a military ruler from 13 February 1976 to 1 October 1979 and as a democratically elected president from 29 May 1999 to 29 May 2007. From July 2004 to January 2006, Obasanjo also served as Chairperson of the African Union.

In June 1960, Somaliland gained its independence from its colonial master Britain before making an ill-fated decision to join former Italian Somaliland five days later in a union that was envisaged ultimately to include French Somalia (now Djibouti), the Somali-dominated Ogaden region of Ethiopia (now Region 5) and a chunk of northern Kenya.

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