7. What progress has been made towards establishing a process to resolve the status of Somaliland. (83289)
Our position on recognising Somaliland is well known, but of course we understand fully the aspirations of the Somaliland people. The Somali people themselves must decide their future, but in the meantime we urge Somaliland to play a very full role in the Somali peace process. It is for neighbouring countries and the African Union generally to take a lead in responding to any changed political circumstances.
I understand the position that the Minister has spelt out, but does he agree that everybody, including the transitional federal Government in the south, needs to respect and acknowledge 20 years of relative peace and exemplary democratic development in Somaliland, which means that we need a process that enables Somaliland, as the Minister has suggested, to be a part of the solution to the problems in the horn of Africa?
The Prime Minister has called an international conference on Somalia, which will take place on 23 February, and of course Somaliland will be invited. I recently had a meeting with President Silanyo and extended that invitation to him, and he indicated to us that he may well attend. It would be a very important step forward if Somaliland played a really full role in the Somali peace process.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that, if the Somalilanders take part in next February’s London conference, they will be able to do so without prejudice to their claim for de jure status, and that if they come to London they will be afforded the courtesy of separate talks with him and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, so that they might put forward in detail why they believe they should be granted de jure status?
Somaliland will certainly be invited, and I hope that it will accept the invitation. It is very important that all the different parts of Somalia attend the conference and play a full role, and we also expect the main Intergovernmental Authority on Development—IGAD—countries and a number of other international players to attend. I simply say to President Silanyo and to Somaliland that we understand their aspirations, which they need to push in such a way that it looks as though they are being constructive in the wider Somali peace process.