Bihi says his country has done everything expected of an independent state since parting way with Somalia 29 years ago after the start of the civil war in the country following the dethroning of the Siyad Barre regime.
“Since Somaliland announced its independence from Somalia, we have done everything that we could to earn recognition. We rule in a democracy, we have peaceful and functioning institutions, and economically we are not a burden to the world, yet we have no recognition and did not see anyone saying we do not deserve it,” Bihi said.
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In an interview with the Voice of America, Somalia Service Bihi accused the Somalia leadership in Mogadishu of being the biggest stumbling block in their quest for self-determination.
“It is time Somalia’s leadership and the international community to accept “the reality of two independent nations- Somalia and Somaliland.”
Somaliland, a former British protectorate, broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has continued its effort to be a separate country ever since, but it has not been internationally recognized.
The government in Mogadishu, however, wants the country’s northern territory to be part of a single Somali state.
“We face the biggest fight from the government in Mogadishu, which uses its international recognition and support to fight Somaliland, whether it is economic pressure, instigating violence within Somaliland or spreading a propaganda war,” Bihi said.
Unlike the southern part of Somalia, Somaliland has had relative peace for 29 years.
Strong positions on both sides — separation versus unity, enshrined in each of their constitutions — and the lack of compromise have made negotiating Somaliland’s independence an insurmountable task.
In June 2012, delegates from the two sides held their first formal talks in London, which ended with no progress. Then, Turkey mediated another round of talks, which stalled.
The European Union has been pushing for the resumption of the talks, but most recently, in February this year, Bihi and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed met in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for the first major face-to-face talks between the leaders.
“In our recent meeting in Addis Ababa, we agreed to continue talks and end our issues through talks, but we still need impartial international mediation,” Bihi said.
Abdullahi has also said Mogadishu was ready for talks.
“President Bihi of Somaliland had accepted our talks to resume and I hope we will solve everything through peaceful and consensus means,” Somalia’s president said.
By Odindo Ayieko
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