His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, speaking to the press on Saturday, Hargeisa, revealed that Abdiweli M Gass, president of the Somalia Federal State of Puntland, defaulted on promises on ceasefire he made to SRSG Michael Keating and the US Ambassador to Somalia, Stephen Schwartz, on several occasions.The two diplomats, he said, held teleconferences for him and Mr Gass, with Somalia Federal President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, listening in on at least one of the calls.
President Bihi revealed that one of the calls was concluded on the 14th of May and the other on the 23rd. Mr. Gass, he said, solemnly promised that he will not be attacking Somaliland positions or advancing towards their positions in any belligerent manner to give dialogue a chance.
“Instead,” President Bihi pointed out “Puntland troops attacked us on both occasions the very next day”.
“What was lamentable about both instances was that Mr Gass miscalculated the readiness of the Somaliland army, its government and public. The first was planned to coincide with 15 May when all of Somaliland was celebrating the 27th anniversary of its re-instated independence. The second was timed at a time the nation was grappling with the aftereffects of the devastating cyclone Sagar where all attention and resources were diverted to help survivors cope with the monumental losses they suffered in the regions of Awdal, Selel, Sanaag, and Sahil”, he said.
The President reiterated that the Republic of Somaliland was ready to observe a ceasefire and would not advance any further than where its troops held defensive positions since January 2018 unless they were compelled to.
“Somaliland has every right to advance to 8 kilometres to Garowe – the capital sity of the Puntland state, where the boundary between Somaliland and Somalia is, but in deference to the civilian population in that city and its surroundings, who might baulk on fear of being caught between the two warring sides, we will not,” he added.
Puntland, he said, was at present some 70 kilometres into Somaliland, and rearing to continue its offensive in the Sool region claiming that all of Sool, Sanaag and Buuhoodle areas fell within boundaries it devised in 1998.
As was stated on several press statements, Puntland’s Gass and different organs of his administration released since his troops re-stirred armed clashes in the Tukkaraq area, Puntland insists that its 1998 ‘constitution’ was sacrosanct and that it will not rest until all of Sool, Sanaag and Ain (Buuhoodle) districts came fully under its wing despite all the legal and geographical hurdles against that logic.
The Somalia, Somaliland borders were designed in 1884 and reinstated in 1991 when Somaliland elders decided to recall their 1960 independence back from a disastrous union with Somalia the same year. International boundaries between the former British Protectorate of Somaliland and Italian Somalia had been inarguably – and clearly – defined in international treaties at different brackets of time such as 1888 (Britain & France), 1894 (Britain & Italy) and 1897 (Britain & Ethiopia). Same clans astraddle all of these boundaries, presently, with members, naturally, falling under the jurisdiction of law and order of government on whichever side they live in.
Puntland claims the three regions because of their ethnic affinity to its dominant clan. If that logic were to work the boundaries between Somalia and Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, Somaliland and Ethiopia, Somaliland and Somalia, and Somaliland and Djibouti would not have been where they are today. A Miscalculation in geopolitics, it appears, on the part of President Gass and his lieutenants.Mr Gass insists that Somaliland must fully and unconditionally withdraw from all of the claimed areas before he agrees to any ceasefire.
The Puntland Federal State of Somalia flies the Federal, five-pronged white star, blue flag the same as Mogadishu’s Villa Somalia, the seat of FGS, Hirshabelle, Galmudug, Southwest State and Jubbaland, and, as such subject to Federal Somali Constitution and its President and PM. The Republic of Somaliland had never been a party to that arrangement.