Somalia: Somaliland reiterates it will not join peace talks

NAIROBI, 17 March (IRIN) - The authorities in the self-declared republic of Somaliland have reiterated they will not take part in the ongoing Somali reconciliation talks in Kenya.
According to a statement issued on Sunday by the region's information minister, Abdullahi Duale, Somaliland was not a party to the Somali conflict.

"There are no Somaliland military forces operating on Somali territory," the statement said, adding that Somaliland had "refrained from interfering in Somalia's internal affairs despite numerous provocations".

The minister was reacting to media reports that the Kenyan chairman of the talks, Bethwel Kiplagat, was awaiting an invitation to Somaliland to discuss the peace process. Some Somali leaders attending the peace talks in Kenya have, in the past, proposed that extra delegates be allocated to represent Somaliland and have repeatedly called for the region to be brought into the process.

Duale's statement said that the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is mediating the talks, was aware of Somaliland's stand on the issue.

"Somaliland will not take part in the IGAD peace process nor send observers unless accorded by IGAD the status due to a sovereign state," the statement stressed.

"When a legitimate, representative government is established in Somalia, the GOS [Government of Somaliland] is prepared to enter into talks with that government concerning the nature of the relationship between the two states," it added.

The minister concluded by saying that Somaliland regretted attempts by some governments to utilise the peace process "as a means of undermining Somaliland's stability, sovereignty and territorial integrity".

Somaliland, a former British protectorate, declared unilateral independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991, but has received no international recognition.


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