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IGAD Resolution on Las Anod Conflict Reflects Somaliland Position

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The 14th Ordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government was held on Monday, 12th June 2023, in the Republic of Djibouti

The meeting was attended by: H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti; H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; H.E. Dr. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya; H.E. Dr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia; H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit; President of the Republic of South Sudan; H.E. Osman Saleh Mohammed Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea and H.E. Gen. Al-Hajj Odongo Jeje Abubakhar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda.

Also in attendance were, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; representatives of the IGAD Council of Ministers and Committee of Ambassadors; H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of the IGAD Secretariat; H.E. Hanna Serwaa Tetteh; United Nations Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa; H.E. Xue Bing, Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China; H.E. Shimizu Shinsuke, Japan Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa; H.E. Sylivie Tabesse, Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Djibouti and IGAD representing Member States of the European Union.

Arising from deliberations that followed statement by the enormous dignitaries and diplomats in attendance. The Assembly:

Thanked the people and Government of the Republic of Djibouti for hosting the 14th Ordinary Session of the IGAD Assembly of Heads of State and Government and the warm welcome extended to delegates from Member States and other participants.

In the final communique of the session, various developments in the IGAD region were welcomed, congratulated, commended, appealed, adopted, underlined, appreciated, condemned, called on, and noted.

The conflict in Somaliland’s Sool region is the subject of one of these adopted resolutions.

Urged the warring parties in Las Anod to immediately cease hostilities
and peacefully resolve differences through discussion and dialogue.

The position that the government of Somaliland took several months ago and continues to uphold is exactly reflected in the IGAD resolution on the Las Anod conflict that was adopted in Djibouti. Unfortunately, the insurgency has repeatedly rejected this position.

Unlike the last absurd press statement on situation in Las Anod conflict from the UN Security Council, which immediately elicited a strong response from the Somaliland government, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) resolution avoided mentioning the sanctity of so-called “Somalia territorial integrity” because all of the IGAD countries are colonial creations. 

This indicates that European colonial powers in the 19th and early 20th centuries established their current borders and political structures. The ethnic or cultural divisions of the people who lived in these countries were frequently ignored when drawing the borders of these nations. 

The Italian colonial government, for instance, established Ethiopia’s borders in the latter part of the 19th century. Oromo, Somali, and Tigrayans are among the numerous ethnic groups that were incorporated into the country as a result of this 

African Union members continue to face significant difficulties as a result of the colonial legacy. There is no doubt that the arbitrary border, drawn by colonial powers has had a negative impact on the continent, mainly leading to conflicts among the neighboring countries. However, it is also important to note that these borders are not the only factor contributing to Africa’s problems. Other factors such as political instability, economic inequality, and poor governance to say the least also play a role. 

The hard reality is this challenge will never result in a review or revision of the colonial-drawn boundaries, because the Charter of the African Union (AU) demanding the preservation of inherited colonial borders upon gaining independence.

The Uti Possidetis Juris, which means “as you possess by right,” is the name of this principle. In 1964, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) adopted it for the first time, and in 2002, it was incorporated into the AU Charter. 

The adoption of the Uti Possidetis Juris principle was primarily viewed as a means of preventing conflict and instability following decolonization.

Considering such regulations and charters in place today, the Republic of Somaliland in the “Horn of Africa” is perhaps the most egregious example of an aspirational nation being denied its proper status because of hypocrisy of the African Union and outside powers in Washington, London, Paris, and Berlin. 

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) was created in 1986 with the initial purpose of promoting economic cooperation and development in the Horn of Africa and East Africa. The IGAD Secretariat was established in 1996 to provide the organization with a permanent secretariat and to coordinate its activities. The IGAD Secretariat is located in Djibouti. In addition to its initial purpose of promoting economic cooperation and development, IGAD has also played a role in promoting peace and security in the region. IGAD has been involved in mediating several peace agreements.

IGAD should not have only thought of making a brief statement on the Las Anod conflict, but it must have the brain tackling and resolving the burning issue between Somaliland and Somalia, given its deep understanding of Somaliland’s sovereignty. 

Guest piece published first on SII

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