Somaliland's opposition question Bihi's ties with Taiwan, wants improved China relations


HARGEISA, Somalia - Abdirahman Mohamed alias Irro, the leader of Somaliland's opposition party Waddani, now wants the breakaway region to reevaluate its relationship with the Republic of China also known as Taiwan, a secessionist state of the People Republic of China.

Under the administration of President Muse Bihi Abdi, Somaliland has invested a lot in Taiwan, a country that is struggling for international recognition. While Somaliland is claimed by Somalia, China insists Taiwan is part of its territory.

In a statement, while quitting as the chairman of the Waddani party, Irro questioned the value of Taiwan in Somaliland's quest for nationhood. Instead, he asked the current administration to focus on improving ties with Beijing.

“It is necessary for Somaliland’s recognition to find a government that is a member of the United Nations Security Council with veto power," he said in his speech as Hirsi Hassan took over as Waddani party chairman.

"At this time Somaliland has close allies and it would’ve been nice if our government improved its relationship with China which is bringing vast development to the region and an unrecognized such as Taiwan adds no value for our question for recognition. We must always improve how we deal with important nations," Irro added.

Under President Muse Bihi Abdi, he added, Somaliland's relations with neighboring states have substantially diminished, noting the recent inauguration of Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed where Hargeisa did not have a representative.

Next year, Irro will be battling with Muse Bihi Abdi and head to the elections after leading Waddani to the biggest parliamentary elections victory in May 2021. Further, he revisited the controversial DP World deal on the construction of Berbera Port, adding that Bihi and his predecessor Mohamoud Silanyo should be prosecuted.

Recently, China reached out to Somaliland following the establishment of bilateral ties with Taiwan and offered a conditional development package which Somaliland has rejected, and since China and Somalia have both condemned the newly established bilateral ties.

For years, Beijing and Taipei have been at loggerheads, with the latter accusing the former of "imposing themselves on us". While Taiwan is not internationally recognized, it has, however, been running a parallel government from that of China.

While Irro did not explicitly state termination of bilateral ties with Taiwan should he be elected President in 2022, it’s clear that pivot to China is featured prominently in his foreign policy posture.

On the other hand, Somaliland has been pushing for international recognition, but the efforts are yet to bear fruits. In fact, efforts by Ethiopia and Djibouti to lead talks between Hargeisa and Mogadishu have flopped, with both sides standing on their ground.

Muse Bihi Abdi will be facing Irro in 2022 polls and the two leaders reduced their rivalry early this year to pave way for elections. But for years, Irro has been accusing Bihi of dictatorship, citing the raid conducted in Waddani party offices in 2019.


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