South African Government recognition of Somalia as a Sovereign State, Official Government Exchanges or Direct Relations with the current ruling Regime; and South Africa’s contribution to the Developments in Somalia

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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

FOR ORAL REPLY

QUESTION NO: 12 (CO73E)

PUBLISHED IN INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER NO 1-2012 OF 6 MARCH 2012

Mr DV Bloem (COPE-FS) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation:

  1. Whether South Africa recognises Somalia as a sovereign state; if not, why not; if so, what is the current state of affairs regarding (a) diplomatic relations with Somalia, (b) the status of recognition for  Somali refugees entering the country for asylum and (c) the protection of Somalis in this country;

  2. Whether there are any forms of official Government exchanges or direct relations with the current ruling regime in the said country; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

  3. What is South Africa’s contribution to the developments in Somalia?

 REPLY:

1. Yes. South Africa does recognise Somalia as a sovereign state. Somalia has for the past two decades been plagued by internal strife that has resulted in the most unusual state of affairs, which has not been conducive for the creation of stable and effective Governments. In spite of all the extreme challenges, Somalia still remains a full member of the United Nations and the African Union. As such, the country continues to enjoy full rights and duties accorded to sovereign states under international law.

South Africa does not have official diplomatic representation in Somalia. Equally, the Somali Transitional Federal Government does not have official representation in South Africa. South Africa conducts its engagement with Somalia through the Somali Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. The South African High Commission in Kenya is the focal point for all interaction between South Africa and Somalia.

The question regarding the status of Somali refugees entering South Africa and their protection in this country is a matter that falls within the area of jurisdiction of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in coordination with the South African Minister of Home Affairs. It is my view that the Minister in charge of that portfolio would be best placed to offer a comprehensive answer to the question.

2. Yes, there are official exchanges between the South African Government and the Transitional Federal Government at a senior level. The latter is internationally recognized as the legitimate authority in Somalia in accordance with the decisions of the African Union and United Nations. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has recently initiated the process of establishing diplomatic relations with Somalia by submitting to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia a draft agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations for their consideration. A positive reply has been received from the Somali authorities in this regard.  A visit to South Africa by the Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs is planned and it is expected that the agreement will be signed during that visit.

3. South Africa is of the opinion that a political solution is the only option to resolving the situation in Somalia and continues to encourage all stakeholders, who still remain outside of the peace process, to participate in the talks to ensure an inclusive Somali owned process and solution. Consequently, South Africa is in the process of exploring ways to assist in capacity building activities for key Somali ministries which includes assistance in the areas of governance, peace-building, constitution building and capacitating the judiciary.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation attended on 23 February 2012 an international Conference on Somalia hosted by the United Kingdom. The gathering afforded South Africa an opportunity to reiterate its position and call for an inclusive Somali owned peace process. While some members of the international community hold the view that military intervention will help stabilize Somalia, South Africa continues to utilise its own acquired experience that it is political negotiations that will result in lasting and meaningful peace.

South Africa has also been active in responding to the humanitarian situation in Somalia by offering aid and logistical support to efforts by SADC countries aimed at combating the humanitarian crises in Mogadishu and other parts of Somalia   

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