HARGEISA, Somalia July 14 (Garowe Online) - Authorities in the breakaway Somali region of Somaliland have placed security forces on high alert on the eve of a much anticipated reconciliation conference in Mogadishu, residents in the region's capital Hargeisa said on Saturday.
Reports surfaced in recent days that elders and politicians from Somaliland might travel to the Somali capital and participate at the conference, which is officially scheduled to kick off tomorrow.
The interim government in Mogadishu, backed by Ethiopia, has billed the convention as a "conference of clans" where issues from power-sharing to disarmament would be openly discussed among Somalia's various clan groupings.
In May, Somaliland authorities warned the region's inhabitants to stay away from the conference or be charged with treason. [
The region's administration did not take part in the 2002-2004 peace talks in Kenya, which resulted with the establishment of the current interim government.
Somaliland police and intelligence at local airports and road checkpoints leading to southern Somalia have been ordered to keep special watch for possible conference participants, officials said.
Citing the region's constitution, Interior Minister Abdullahi Irro described to reporters the extent of legal punishments that will be justified against those who commit "national treason" by attending at the reconciliation conference in Mogadishu.
Leaders in Somaliland, the northwestern portion of Somalia, declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 and have since setup a democratically elected government with its own constitution, currency and armed forces.
No nation in the world has recognized Somaliland as an independent country.
Source: Garowe Online