Ethiopia dispatches a team to meet Bihi over Abiy-Farmajo's proposed visit to Somaliland
ADDIS ABABA - Nobel Laurette Abiy Ahmed has dispatched a high-level delegation to Hargeisa as part of his determination to reunite Somaliland and Somalia, a senior official said, in a move that could further shift reconciliation efforts.
Already, powerful Ethiopian finance minister Ahmed Shide has on Wednesday morning arrived in Hargeisa to set the pace for talks aiming at the proposed joint visit to Hargeisa by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and PM Abiy Ahmed.
The Ethiopian PM engineered the first-ever meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Muse Bihi in Addis Ababa last week, as part of efforts to broker peace deal.
Since 1991, Somaliland has led an independent government although the United Nations is yet to recognize it as a bonafide republic.
But the Addis Ababa meeting has opened a room for concrete negotiations, even though Mr. Bihi dismissed the proposed trip by Farmajo to Hargeisa on Tuesday.
While addressing parliament, Bihi said, "there is such a request for the trip but Somaliland will never allow Farmajo to visit Somaliland".
Abdirahman Ahmed, the Director of Planning and International Relations Somalia's Information Ministry, however, claims the Ethiopian delegation to negotiate for Farmajo's joint visit with Ahmed.
He tweeted: "Gedu Andargechew and Ahmed Shide are expected to meet Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi over a proposed historic visit by Farmajo".
But Mr. Ahmed is yet to publicly issue a statement on the rejection of his proposal by Hargeisa. He's also yet to confirm the trip by his delegation to Somaliland.
After the historic Addis Ababa meeting, President Farmajo was quick to tender an apology to Somaliland over atrocities committed in the 80s by former Somali military regime, which was formally accepted by Bihi on Tuesday.
Bihi, who was elected in 2017, termed the apology "sincere and honest" while addressing parliament on Tuesday, adding that "we agreed with Abiy Ahmed to mediate the hostility between Somaliland and Somalia during February 11 meeting in Addis Ababa".
Although Somaliland seceded from Somalia, Mogadishu administration has often recognized it as part of its territory, leading to further fallout.
Mohammed Hirmoge, a Horn of Africa security analyst, however, believes Bihi maybe be playing mind with his constituents, adding that he is not opposed to Farmajo's trip.
He said: "Bihi is a smart politician. He accepted the apology, didn't deny the proposed visit and he's just appeasing his people before doing the right thing."
While Bihi may be secretly rooting for a truce, a number of bureaucrats in Hargeisa among them Guurti chair Suleiman Mohamoud, are openly opposed to the visit.
Mr. Ahmed, who is credited for brokering a deal with Eritrea, is calling shots at the Horn of Africa as a statesman and radical reformist both in politics and the social-economic arena.