Somalia: Blow to Somaliland leader Bihi as top official joins SSC-Khatumo
HARGEISA, Somalia - Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi suffered a huge blow after one of the senior members of the ruling Kulmiye party defected from his administration, joining the restless SSC-Khatumo team, which has been fighting to be governed from Mogadishu.
Hussein Aden, the third deputy chairman of Kulmiye announced that he was joining the SSC-Khatumo administration, which was formed recently after months of clashes with the Somaliland regional army at Las Anod. Over 300 people were killed during the clashes.
Aden, who spoke to the state media, commended the SSC-Khatumo people for "liberating" themselves from Somaliland, adding that his wish was to see the region recognized as a federal state of the Republic of Somalia. Somalia has six states.
Earlier, Aden was aligned with the Somaliland army at the onset of the conflict but has since changed his political stand. This shift comes five months after Abdirisakh Khalif Ahmed, the Speaker of Parliament for the self-declared state of Somaliland, resigned and joined the SSC-Khatumo administration.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has pledged his support for the SSC-Khatumo region, triggering sharp political reactions from Hargeisa, the regional administrative capital of Somaliland. Muse Bihi Abdi, the regional leader, maintains that the region is still under his jurisdiction.
The war in Las Anod triggered intervention by the international community which called for order from both sides. However, tensions in Las Anod have been building lately after Somaliland threatened to attack, leading to a mass exodus of civilians from the region.
Somaliland claimed to have attained independence in 1991 after the union's dissolution with Somalia, but the international community has yet to recognize it as a country. As it is, Somaliland is still a region within Somalia.