The Djibouti Peace Process and the Northern Recovery Zones

News and Press Release
Originally published
Somalia - The direction the Somali Peace Process in Arta (Djibouti) is taking will almost certainly put the process and the outcome of the conference in a collision course with the Northern Recovery zones of Somalia, namely Somaliland and Puntland.
Thus, the net result of the whole peace process may be to destabilize and rekindle the civil war in the only truly peaceful parts of country - the Recovery Zones. It was not supposed to be like this, so what went wrong. Short survey of the situation in the country in recent past may shed some light.

Somaliland was established in 1991 right after the collapse of the Somali State. She declared its intention to secede from the rest of the country. Somaliland's justification for secession is based on the historical fact that it was a British colony while the rest of the former Somali State was an Italian colony. Many Somalis are questioning the validity of Somaliland's arguments of being a separate entity simply because of this colonial history, but admire the fact that the elected government managed to create stable environment and functioning institutions.

Puntland State has been established in 1998, and consists of five of the 18 regions that made the Somali Republic. Unlike Somaliland that had declared its intention to secede, Puntland has the stated policy that it "does not believe in any form of secession or break-up of the Somali Nation" and that "unity, integrity and sovereignty of Somalia is inviolable". This fundamental principle of unity of the Somali territories is a noble stand the majority of the Somali people support. Like Somaliland, the elected government managed to create stable environment and functioning institutions.

The reality today is that, together the Northern States have been laying the corner stone for the reconstitution of the Somali nation, and the International Community has acknowledged their efforts.

The General Secretary's Mr. Kofi Anan concerned with the lack of government in Somalia observed in his Report - GENERAL S/1999/882 16 August - that," As a country without a national government, Somalia remains unique," but acknowledged the, " fact that administrations in some parts of the country, notably in north- western Somalia ("Somaliland") and north-east Somalia ("Puntland"), have begun to provide some basic services to their people".

H.E. the President of the Republic of Djibouti Mr. Ismail Omar Guelle at the 54th session of UN General Assembly on 22nd Sept 99 stated that, " ... indeed it (Somalia) is evolving into a country of stark contrasts between the troubled central and southern regions and the relatively stable and peaceful north, namely the self-declared Somaliland and the Puntland region". He also suggested that, " this move toward decentralization or self-administration by many parts and communities of the country is fueled by the need to survive. The international community, therefore, need to support economically these regions or communities that have achieved relative peace, security and development. we must reward those who have made serious efforts to restore security and peace to protect human rights."

The Declaration of the 7th IGAD Summit of Heads of States and Government in November 1999 stated that, " The Heads of State and Government reiterated that those in Somalia who have so far sought to promote peace in their respective regions by encouraging the participation of Civil Society such as "Somaliland" later "Puntland" and more recently the region of Bay and Bakool and others, need the encouragement of the countries of the Sub-region and of the international community in general. They stressed the need for the international community to be forthcoming in providing assistance to make the peace dividend approach viable and to promote reconstruction effort underway in the various parts of the country What we have seen, so far, from the Djibouti Conference is a reversal of the positions and intentions of the World Community as explained in the three examples we have quoted above. Many have hoped to see the reinforcement of the "building Block" and peace dividend approach where clearly the Recovery Zones in the North would be the corner blocks on which the rest of the country would be pulled up to reconstitute the nation again.

Djibouti Government, inadvertently perhaps, has clearly deviated from the intentions of the Peace Process. It is possible that the net result of Djibouti Peace Process would be a destabilization of the Recovery Zones in the North without really achieving peace and governance in the South.

The International Community - UN, OAU, the Arab League and other regional organizations should seriously examine the direction the Djibouti Peace Process is going and should help put it on the right track before it is too late. The Conference should not be allowed to continue in its present form. We also urge the international community to examine the facts on the ground in the country, and not to be misled by the seemingly rosy statements the Djibouti officials are making about the conference. A fact-finding mission(s) by the international community may be in order here.

Best Regards Ali A.Jama Director - Somalia Watch Organization - Press Release - SW/AAJ 33-2/2000, 24 June 2000

Attach three documents - Gen Sec Kofi Anan's Report of Aug 99, HE Geele's presentation at the UN Sept 99, IGAD Declaration of Nov 99.

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