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Somaliland and Taiwan sign deals for improved higher education

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

HARGEISA, Somalia - Barely a fortnight after formalizing relations, Somaliland and Taiwan have moved in speed to normalize partnership in higher education, a move which would help Hargeisa put systems in place in a bid to revolutionize its education.

At Hargeisa on Tuesday, Ahmed Mohamed Diriye, Somaliland's education minister, held a meeting with Lou Chen-hwa, the Taiwan representative for the region, who was formally appointed to the position in July, following a deal for cooperation that was unveiled by the two regions.

The two, reports indicated, discussed bilateral relations on the improvement of educational programs, a move which would see them benefit from partnerships and exchange programs that are geared towards helping them also learn from their respective cultures.

Both Somaliland and Taiwan are fighting for international recognition and have prioritized education as one of the major sectors that needs face-lifting as they push for their quest. While Somalia still maintains that Somaliland is part of its territory, China has on the other hand refused to recognize Taiwan.

Early this month, China and Somalia refused to acknowledge the cooperation between Hargeisa and Taipei, arguing that their deals were "illegal". The two reprimanded both Somaliland and Taiwan, accusing them of advancing "ill-motivated" agenda against international standards of diplomacy.

Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi had appointed Mohamed Hagi as the representative to Taiwan while Taiwan named Lou Chen-hwa as their envoy to Hargeisa. The deal was first signed in February before it was unveiled over five months later.

On July 1, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu announced that the governments of Taiwan and Somaliland had “agreed that the establishment of representative offices will best serve the interests of one another.”

Somaliland is keen to expand its diplomatic network and has earmarked trade and education as major centers of interest. Just after signing an agreement with Taiwan, the northern breakaway region hosted a delegation from Nairobi in Hargeisa.

The delegation is said to have visited to "assess" the situation and report to authorities for a possible push for recognition by Kenya. The East African nation won the United Nations Security Council non-permanent seat, move which puts it at the pole position to advance the agenda.

Over the weekend, Somaliland also hosted a high-level delegation from Egypt, which stayed in Hargeisa for two days. The delegation is said to have cemented relations with Cairo, which is expected to also establish formal ties in the coming weeks.

Somaliland runs a parallel administration that has its own executive, parliament, and even judiciary from that of Somalia. Most of the teachers are hired from Kenya and other African nations and the education system is described as "progressive" by most analysts.

The region gained independence from Britain in 1960 before merging with Somalia, a colony of Italians. However, the marriage broke irretrievably in 1991 following years of violence and genocide meted on its people by the regime of Siad Barre.


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