Thursday May 25, 2023
Hargeisa (HOL) - Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi held talks with the newly appointed British Ambassador to Somalia, Ambassador Mike Nithavrianakis, at the Presidential Palace in Hargeisa on Wednesday.
The key topic of the conversation was the ongoing conflict in the town of Las Anod, where over 100 people have died and more than 600 others, including dozens of civilians, have been injured in clashes between Somaliland security forces and armed groups affiliated with the Dhulbahante clan.
Following the meeting, the Somaliland government issued a statement emphasizing the commitment to resolve the conflict. President Bihi reiterated his administration's steadfast dedication to achieving a ceasefire.
On the May 18th commemoration of Somaliland's unrecognized independence day, President Bihi announced that the conflict in Las Anod would continue until it reached the British border in Somaliland.
In retaliation, Garad Jama Garad Ali, the leading traditional clan chief of the Sool, Sanaag, and Ayn regions, accused President Bihi of refusing a meeting with traditional elders from Mogadishu, advocating instead for further military engagement.
In an interview with Gaylan Media on Thursday, the clan chief disclosed that President Bihi had invited the elders to his hometown but declined to meet them while they were in Hargeisa.
The dialogue between President Bihi and Ambassador Mike also broached the subject of the impending elections. President Bihi reassured the ambassador that election preparations were underway and going well, including the printing and distribution of voter cards, as per the press release.
At the May 18 commemoration event, President Muse Bihi Abdi stated that Somaliland has enough funds for the long-awaited elections and reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining control over its affairs without dependence on external aid. He stressed that the time for elections has arrived and emphasized that the international community should abstain from interfering in Somaliland's electoral process.
Last year, violent clashes between security forces and protesters demanding presidential elections to be held in November led to the death of at least five people and injuries to 100 others in Somaliland. After President Bihi's constitutional mandate expired, the opposition declared their non-recognition of his presidency.