On 12th October 2020, the United Nations signed a five years cooperation agreement with Somalia. The cooperation is aimed at achieving what the parties termed as “peace, stability and prosperity for all Somalis”.

The agreement replaces the UN Strategic Framework, which is to expire at the end of 2020. The new UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNCF) signed by the government of Somalia was seen as a major breakthrough by the government.

According to the UN, the UNCF has closely been aligned to Somalia’s National Development Plan and is intended to ‘support government-owned and government-led priorities”.

The cooperation is specifically intended to focus on the promotion of inclusivity in politics and reconciliation; security and rule of law; economic development and social development.

On the announcement, the President of Somaliland, Mr Musa Bihi was quick to suspend all UN humanitarian engagements and other activities. The president accused the United Nations envoy to Somalia, Mr James Swan, of condescending attitude towards Somaliland.

Given the furore from Somaliland, Adam Abdelmoula, the UN resident representative claim that the UNCF was an “impressive achievement of collaboration across levels of the UN, Government and other stakeholders” seem not entirely correct.

The deep resentment of the UN’s continued romance with Somalia stems from what is viewed in Somaliland as the UN’s overt refusal to acknowledge the de facto reality of Somaliland for the past 30 years.

Back in 2017 when the UN signed the Strategic Framework, the signatories had provided clear and specific goals that the agreement was to achieve. Although the UN claimed it to be successful, the reality on the ground is quite different.  On all front Somalia is still far from realizing any meaningful positive change.

A recent report by the BBC gave a completely different picture from what the Agency will have us believe. The BBC quoting the Hiraal Institute said that the militant group, Al Shabaab collects at least $15 million a month with more than half coming from Mogadishu.

A Somaliland political commentator based in London, Mr. Abdinasir pointed out the difficulty of selling the UNCF to Somaliland.  He argues that claims by the UN and applauded by the administration garrisoned in Villa Somalia cannot pass any test. He goes on the say that “we are yet to get transparent and credible auditing of UN expenditures in Somalia” and this is despite suspicion corruption, huge expenditures in Nairobi and even possibly indirectly contributing to the said taxes by Al Shabaab.

It is extremely hard to see this impasse between UN and Somaliland gets resolved quickly. For one, the close alignment of the UNCF and Somalia government’s National Development Plan and priorities cannot conceivably by palatable to the Somaliland administration as such acquiescence will be tantamount to Somaliland surrender to the administration based in Villa Somalia.

Secondly, the current Somaliland president, Mr. Musa Bihi has amply demonstrated his diplomatic stamina in his engagement with the Chinese regarding the Taiwan relations. Mr James Swan has his work cut out.

Ahmed Aideed

Political Columnist


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