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Farmajo rejects Somaliland's secession bid, refuses to respond to topical issues

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The journey for possible recognition of Somaliland, the northern breakaway region of Somalia may take a little longer before the realization following the latest sentiment by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who cast doubt about the state's quest for nationhood, which has lasted for three decades.

On Saturday night, Farmajo, in a panel discussion hosted by the Raas Institute, covered a litany of issues when he was hosted by a panel, where he addressed a number of controversial issues, which could further degenerate into serious political issues, just months before the country goes to national elections.

In reference to Somaliland, Farmajo insisted that the region remains part of Somalia's territorial integrity, adding that the intended division of the country cannot work. According to him, the fact that the international community has failed to endorse the quest means that the country will remain as one nation.

Farmajo said: "I believe it is out of the question that Somalia is one nation and cannot divided. No one recognizes a region in Somalia. It's 30 years on, Somaliland and its leaders have done everything and gone everywhere to gain recognition and didn't get."

Somaliland, which was under the British Protectorate, gained independence on June 26, 1960, about six days before Somalia also gained independence from Italians. However, the two nations merged to form the republic of Somaliland, before Hargeisa claiming to secede in 1991 following years of 21 years of military rule in Somalia.

Efforts by Somaliland to get nationhood have often stalled and a recent meeting in Djibouti is yet to bear fruits. But even with efforts by Somaliland to get recognition, Somalia rejected a bilateral agreement between Hargeisa and Taipei recently, in a move which was also backed by China, the global economic giant which claims Taiwan.

But Somaliland's quest has been gaining momentum given that the relationship with Taiwan was acknowledged by the United States. Also pushing for the quest is Kenya, which sits in the United Nations Security Council, and has reportedly been discussing the quest in a cabinet but it's at a preliminary stage.

The President, however, failed to answer the controversial issue of Abdikarim Muse alias Qalbi Dhagah's, the commander of Ogaden National Liberation Front [ONLF], arguing that the question was "out of topic" when pressed hard to respond to the question.

Abdikarim Muse alias Qalbi Dhagah's handover to Ethiopia on August 31, 2017, sparked public uproar and put Farmajo’s administration on a collision course with his hitherto remarkable public ratings, also occasioning to backlash from among his supporters who insisted that he "messed".

Ogaden, a Somali region in eastern Ethiopia has been witnessing restlessness and the quest to secede from Ethiopia had often backfired due to resistance from the Ethiopian government. However, tensions in Ethiopia have reduced after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed started the process of democratization of the country.

And during the press conference of "handpicked attendees" on Saturday, Farmajo also refused to address the controversial dispute between Somaliland and Puntland over the ownership of Sool and Sanag regions which are found along the border of Somalia and secessionist Somaliland. He said: "Too hard to answer."

Over the past years, there have been tensions over competing claims to the Sool and Sanaag regions by the self-declared entity of Somaliland and Puntland and even at some point, President Said Abdullahi Deni warned that the presence of Somaliland security officers would evoke the deployment of troops to the region by Puntland.

When asked the fate of the people in these two regions split between Somaliland and Puntland, especially the representation in parliament, Farmajo further insisted that "it's hard to respond to your question." Puntland had previously insisted that talks between Somalia and Somaliland could not be complete without her input.

Farmajo further said that he had done all he could to ensure proper representation of the Banadir region in the coming Senate but insisted that it's the prerogative of the Upper House to ensure the region gets 13 seats when the country goes to elections in November. Banadir region hosts the country's capital city, Mogadishu.

"Since I came to power we have empowered the youth, as part of the leadership and governance of the country," he said. "The 13 seats in the Benadir region that I have requested and accepted by the House of the People are now before the Speaker of both Houses of Parliament, as it has gone beyond the agreed political process and remains to be done in accordance with the law," he added.

Responding to questions about the war on terror and the harassment of Somali citizens, the President said that during his presidency, the power of Al-Shabaab had been weakened, with a strong rebuilding of the Army and liberation in many areas where terrorists have been organizing bombings and attacks.

So far, the Somali army in collaboration with AU Forces and the US military liberated areas in southern Somalia despite resistance from the Al-Shabaab. But in what could further spark heated debate about the government's commitment in the fight against terror, Farmajo said some journalists are linked with Al-Shabaab activities.