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Somalia: Confusions rock Farmajo's proposed historic visit to Somaliland

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
Farmajo [L], Abiy Ahmed [C] and Muse Bihi ]R]

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The proposed visit to Somaliland involving Ethiopian PM Ahmed Abiy and Federal Government of Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has aroused mixed reactions, throwing such plans into limbo.

For decades now, no sitting Somalia leader has visited secessionist Somaliland, with the frosty relationship between Mogadishu and Hargeisa escalating annually.

Somaliland has often accused Mogadishu of engineering atrocities in the north in 1988, which left thousands dead, leading to a self-independence declaration in 1991.

Suleiman Mohamoud, the Guurti chair, on Sunday said "Ahmed has been pushing for a trip to Hargeisa with Farmajo. We are only going to welcome him alone."

The statement comes barely a week after Mr. Ahmed organized a one on one meeting between Farmajo and Muse Bihi, the Somaliland president in Addis Ababa.

But despite indications that such a trip to Hargeisa was in the offing, mixed reactions have since elicited, further causing confusion among members of the public.

Jamal Mohamed, Somaliland's Secretary to the Cabinet, refuted media reports that the cabinet discussed a possible joined trip by Farmajo and Mr. Ahmed to Hargeisa.

According to him, "such an agenda is not only misleading but also inaccurate", adding that "they never discussed such a trip by the two leaders".

But Somaliland's Foreign Affairs minister Yasin Haji, was more skeptical, arguing that President Bihi "will discuss the matter in the near future" with his people.

However, his deputy, Liban Osman, termed Farmajo's proposed visit to Somaliland as "a daydream and mission impossible" further establishing that the proposal will flop.

He added: "The government of Somaliland stands for the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity at all costs."

In a rather unusual gesture, Farmajo apologized for atrocities committed in Somaliland by previous Somalia administrations, insisting that it had nothing to do with clans.

His apology appeared to revive the spirit of reconciliation between the two sides, which has faced hiccups for years. Turkey has been pushing for mediation since 2015.

Mr. Rashid Abdi, a security analyst in the Horn of Africa, while lauding Mr. Ahmed's mediation attempts, says that "he was too fast" given that he brokered a meeting recently.

"If you push Somalia, Somaliland too fast you break them. The idea of taking Farmajo to Hargeisa is fine, but best if it comes in later stages of negotiations," he tweeted.

The reports of the visit came after Farmajo has held a closed-door meeting with Bihi ay PM Abiy's office in Addis Ababa on February 11.

Efforts to unite Somaliland with Somalia seem to be Ahmed's next daunting task, which he might, after all, live up to, given his previous successes that earned him Nobel Peace Prize.

While Somalia maintains that the breakaway region regions its territory, Somaliland has its own government and has been pushing for international recognition.