A recent media report alleged that the Hargeisa Cultural Center was attempting to broaden its scope by involving itself in the complex discussions between Somaliland and Somalia. In the proposal, which the center has vehemently denied any involvement and threatened legal action, there is no mention of a separation between the two nations; rather, it strongly emphasizes the idea of reconciliation and reunification.
The proposal, examined by Somaliland Chronicle, outlines a comprehensive plan for the Horn Dialogue Conference 2023, scheduled to take place in Hargeisa, Somaliland. The primary focus of the conference is to explore the role of civil society in facilitating dialogue and reconciliation between Somalia and Somaliland. The proposing organizations, the Horn Dialogue Conference and Hargeysa Cultural Center, emphasize various aspects of the conference, including its objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.
You can access the Horn Dialogue Conference proposal document here
The proposed conference carries significant objectives, primarily centered on promoting dialogue, reconciliation, and political cooperation between Somalia and Somaliland. It also seeks to address critical issues related to governance, security, and economic development, with an emphasis on fostering trust and consensus among key political actors. Notably, the document suggests a departure from traditional government-to-government negotiations in favor of involving civil society groups, such as traditional elders, women, youth, and academics, as key players in bridging divides and establishing a foundation for meaningful dialogue and cooperation.
The proposed methodology for the conference includes conducting in-depth research, mapping critical issues, and identifying key political factors that hinder reconciliation. It further introduces the concept of establishing standing committees to ensure that the progress made during the conference is effectively translated into action. The long-term impact and outcomes envisioned for the conference involve promoting democracy, negotiating plans for the political future of the region, and establishing stable civilian governance.
One intriguing aspect of the proposal, outlined in a section titled “Politics, Peace, and Security,” is its avoidance of any mention of Somaliland’s independence. Instead, it strongly emphasizes the idea of reconciliation and suggests a path forward rooted in dialogue:
- reaffirm that for genuine peace to take hold in Somalia/Somaliland we should seek dialogue, reconciliation and political cooperation including establishing inclusive, accountable and legitimate governance.
- The Conference is grateful for the wide-scale and strong Somali participation, including women, in this Conference, and the powerful and meaningful messages they have pronounced.
- To affirm that at this critical period in Somalia/Somaliland history, the security, political, social and economic achievements of the past year have given Somalia/Somaliland and the international community a renewed hope for the future. Somalia/Somaliland have made considerable progress towards achieving stability, security and reconciliation: this opportunity should not be missed.
- To initiate the beginning of a new phase of peacebuilding, in which all Somalis would contribute to peace and have their voices heard.
Although he denies it, the author of the report “HORN DIALOGUE CONFERENCE 2023, Hargeisa, Somaliland: The Role of Civil Society: Somalia and Somaliland Reconciliation Dialogue” is Abdinasir Suleman Omar Kujoog, who is listed as the Convener of the Horn Dialogue Conference.
Mr. Omar Kujoog who did speak to Somaliland Chronicle about this report and called it an elaborate hoax and a photoshop, stated that the biographies of the various people mentioned in it must have been collected from online and stitched together. For some reason, Mr. Omar Kujoog was forceful in his defense of Dr. Jama Muse and the Hargeisa Cultural Center more than himself and his Horn Dialogue outfit and repeatedly neither has anything to do with the document even though he called it a fake document concocted from thin air. He has accused of those behind it as engaged in a smear campaign against Dr. Jama, the Chairman of Hargeisa Cultural Center.
Asked about his opinion on the continuance of talks between Somaliland and Somalia, Mr. Omar Kujoog called it “mission impossible” and a follow up question on the role of the civil society in the future of the talks, although he claims to have never seen the document and that is it fake, his points seem to align with the document which postulates more community involvement.
Despite Mr. Abdinasir Suleman Omar Kujoog, has denied that he wrote it and has called it a “hoax.” However, there is evidence to suggest that the document is authentic. For example, the Horn Dialogue website, which has since been taken down, listed a conference called “Building Bridges Conference l September 2023,” which is described in a similar way to the conference proposed in the document.
Building Bridges Conference September 2023. The conference is described as “Somalia and Somaliland have long been divided, with protracted conflicts that have caused significant human suffering and impeded development. Traditional justice and customary laws have been used to address these grievances, with civil society organizations playing a key role in promoting dialogue. This conference aims to explore how civil society can further utilize traditional justice and customary laws in bridging divides and normalising relations.”.
Hargeysa Cultural Center has issued a strongly worded denial of the accusation in media reports and the document and alluded to taking unspecified legal action against those responsible.
Dr. Jama Muse Jama, the chairman of the Hargeisa Cultural Center who did not respond to request to speak on the record posted on social media “@HargeysaCC and I have nothing to do with the video and the fake document prepared by someone who uses our names and shared, if not invented, by irresponsible media that now has to prove the source of this document.”
Dr. Jama Muse Jama is one of President Muse Bihi’s closes advisors on foreign policy and possibly other matters.
Recently, Dr. Jama was the subject of international headlines when he met with the President of Uganda who publicly stated his opposition to Somaliland’s independence. President Museveni is a major stakeholder in Somalia’s stabilization efforts where Ugandan troops make up a large percent of the ATMIS contingency stationed in Somalia.
Another close advisor to President Bihi, Dr. Amal Ali has been accused of attending a meeting held in Qatar on Somalia – Somaliland reconciliation. Dr Ali and her law firm has denied accusation as “Fake News”.