Djibouti hosted talks on Sunday between the Somali central government and Somaliland state officials.
The day before, it was the Djiboutian president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, who had announced it on his Twitter account.
“I will chair tomorrow in Djibouti, a meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and President Moussa Bihi Abdi to monitor the mediation efforts between the two brotherly peoples”, wrote the Djiboutian head of state.
The Prime Minister of neighboring Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, was also invited, said President Guelleh.
The Somaliland region has been seeking to detach itself from the rest of Somalia for about four decades.
Much like in the crisis in the English-speaking areas of Cameroon, the case of Somaliland dates back to colonization.
A former British protectorate, Somaliland gained independence in 1960, but a few days later it joined Somalia. But in 1991, after years of war with the Mogadishu government, it declared independence from the rest of the country. But neither the central government nor the other countries recognize it as a sovereign country.
Since then, the cold persists between the leaders of the region and those of Mogadishu. And for good reason: Somaliland enjoys autonomy of management, with a functional government and a climate without conflict. In contrast, Mogadishu the capital and surrounding areas are a bastion of insecurity.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, nicknamed “Farmajo”, “pledged to make every effort to conduct fruitful discussions with Somaliland”, Presidential spokesman Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed said in a statement.
The agenda has not been made public.
These will be the first formal talks between Farmajo and Somaliland President Musa Bihi, after Abiy organized an informal meeting in February.
“The delegation of Somaliland will have the opportunity to present to the world that Somaliland has the right to its sovereignty”, wrote the Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Twitter.
It is not the first time that an attempt at mediation has taken place.
In previous rounds of negotiations between 2012 and 2015, the two sides made progress on practical cooperation issues, such as airspace management, “but have failed to bridge the gap on the fundamental question of the status of Somaliland”, we read in a report by the International Crisis Group, dating from 2019.