Somalia: Bihi says Somaliland troops will not leave Sool region
HARGEISA, Somalia - The Somaliland military will not leave the troubled Sool region, the regional President Muse Bihi Abdi has said, noting that the conflict within Las Anod town will be solved soon to allow smooth operations, even with the current uncertainty that has eclipsed peace in the northern region.
Bihi told reporters that his administration will amicably settle the crisis in Las Anod which has paralyzed operations for the last five weeks. Somaliland military opened fire recently killing over 20 anti-government protestors who accused the government of killing a junior politician within the city.
So severe were the protests that President Muse Bihi Abdi ordered the military to control the influx of people into the town until normalcy was restored. The deaths were condemned by stakeholders including members of the international community, who called for order.
"I hope that whatever traditional leaders and elders agree to in Las Anod will result in peace, as is expected of every traditional meeting," President Bihi said, noting that peace is important for the sake of prosperity and development in the breakaway region.
The president refuted claims that members of the military intelligence wing have been tracking the number of people within the region, noting that the state is ready to move ahead without antagonism. Bihi added that the government would publicly reveal the culprits behind the spate of assassinations.
In his speech, Muse Bihi Abdi blamed a group of "terrorists" who he did not mention, adding that the people of Soul should ensure peace lasts in the region for the sake of stability. "The Somaliland army is protecting its country from the enemy."
The Speaker of the Somaliland House of Representatives, Abdirisaaq Khalif Ahmed, also hoped the ongoing SSC conference in Las Anod would not cause Somaliland any significant problems. The town is disputed between Somaliland and the Puntland states of Somalia.
Somaliland has been working as an independent state, but efforts to be recognized internationally have been futile. The state has an independent judiciary, executive, central bank, and even parliament but it is internationally under-recognized as a territory of Somalia.