The Republic of Somaliland communicated its dissatisfaction of how SRSG Michael Keating presented the ongoing conflict between Somaliland and the Puntland Federal State of Somalia to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, on June 18.
The letter which His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, wrote to Mr. Guterres, accuses Mr. Keating of not only coloring the facts by putting Somaliland and Puntland on the same par politically and geographically, but, also of presenting the facts inaccurately in a disrespectful tone that was not helpful to the diffusion of hostilities on the ground at all.
Mr. Bihi informed SG Guterres that he viewed the letter the Special Representative sent to him and his government as a one-sided response, inaccurate as to the facts, disrespectful in tone and not helpful at all’.
The President obviously was riled by the fact that the SRSG did neither address nor imply anywhere in his letter (as below) to the RoS the fact that Puntland was a federal state of Somalia, and so subject to the directions and authority of the central FGS, where Somaliland was not and never was. The SRSG, in his letter, called ‘for an immediate cessation of hostilities between “Somaliland” and Puntland forces following recent fighting in the Tukaraq area of the Sool region’ – which, in fact, implied, that the area rightfully belonged to neither geographically or otherwise.
Mr. Bihi said if at all, his government stood accused of respecting the international boundaries set out by colonial powers in 1884 and re-affirmed by the former Organization of African Unity in 1964.
Puntland claims large swathes of Sanaag, Sool and Buuhoodle come under its regional government on the premise that people in those areas trace the same ancestry with people in the former Mudug and Bari regions upon which bases the formation of the regional State was proclaimed in 1998 – eight years after Somaliland reclaimed its sovereignty from an ill-fated union with Somalia in 1960 but at a dear cost in lives, estimated at more than 50 000 dead.
As writing this letter coincided with the same day Somalia, with the help of the United Nation’s own ICAO, completely transferred the disputed Somalia/Somaliland airspace management to Mogadishu without a prior agreement with Somaliland, President Bihi could have capitalized on the opportunity to raise the issue with Mr. Guterres. In this, too, Keating did not play an objective role or even try to revive the stalled talks between the two sides during his tenure. On the contrary, he is accused of buying time for Mogadishu as he always assured Somaliland that airspace management was an issue that could not be taken over by any one party unilaterally as that will have far-reaching, international consequences that may even place precious human lives in jeopardy.