A historic summit between Somalia and Somaliland ended Thursday in Djibouti with the signing of a five-point compromise including a code of conduct, a commitment to build confidence, and a promise to implement previous agreements on investment and humanitarian aid.
The compromise was reached after several days of negotiations between the Somaliland President Muse Bihi and Somali President Mohamed Farmajo.
It is a very small step towards peace taken by Somalia and Somaliland, a territory that seceded in 1991 without being recognized by the international community.
Besides the five-point compromise, the two sides appointed several sub-committees, notably on safety and airspace. They will meet again in Djibouti in a fortnight, before a ministerial summit in a month and a half.
According to observers, it took patience to wrest this agreement in a sometimes tense atmosphere. Delegations threatened to slam the door several times. A statement even had to be amended because it referred to Somaliland as a country, provoking the wrath of Mogadishu.
Upon his return to Hargeisa, the President of Somaliland was greeted by hundreds of people. In front of the crowd, Muse Bihi remained adamant that he was “ready to wait 100 years for independence to be recognized.”
Similar talks had been held in the past between the two sides and previous agreements were signed in London, Istanbul, Accra and Djibouti, but none of them was implemented.
Many observers are skeptical as the agreements still raise concerns as to whether they will be implemented this time around.
Somalia’s international partners welcomed the dialogue between the two sides and commended the regional support and engagement that led to the talks.
They welcomed the Djibouti meeting as an important step in strengthening communication and fostering understanding, and encourage the technical committee named by the principals to deliver tangible benefits for their people.