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UN endorses Ethiopian PM Ahmed's efforts to reconcile Farmajo and Bihi

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online
UN envoy for Somalia James Swan welcomes Abiy's efforts to mediate between FGS and Somaliland

ADDIS ABABA - The recent meeting between Somaliland leader Muse Bihi Abdi and Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo paves way for building strong ties, the UN has said, adding that the efforts are timely.

Early this month, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed organized a meeting between the two in Addis Ababa, although Bihi would later claim that "it was impromptu but we agreed to negotiate" on the differences between the two parties.

Although Somaliland seceded from Somalia in 1991, Mogadishu has often insisted that its part of her territory, leading to the current impasse.

But the UN on Monday lauded efforts to unite the two parties, acknowledging that a united front would lead to improved trade ties and diplomacy in the Horn of Africa.

"Regional cooperation is essential to address the many challenges in the Horn of Africa," James Swan, the UN envoy to Somalia said. "I welcome efforts by the President and regional leaders to resolve differences and strengthen ties."

Addis Ababa's meeting between the two leaders was the first since they assumed office in 2017, although there have been previous efforts to reconcile Hargeisa and Mogadishu.

Despite not getting international recognition as a nation, Somaliland has always been considered as part of great Somalia for three decades now.

Swan added: "In this regard, we note that Ethiopian President Abiy Ahmed earlier this month arranged a meeting between President Farmajo and “Somaliland” President, Muse Bihi Abdi."

To unlock the impasse, he noted: "We look forward to their further engagement with a view to constructive dialogue."

Mr. Ahmed has submitted a proposal to have a joint visit to Hargeisa with Farmajo, although Somaliland leader Muse Bihi said "it's impossible" at this moment.

A delegation led by Ethiopian Finance Minister Ahmed Shide visited Somaliland last week to push for the visit, but details of their encounter are yet to be made public.

Even though Bihi has ruled out the trip, pundits believe he's willing to pave way for dialogue and a possible visit, after acknowledging apology by Farmajo in quick succession a fortnight ago.

Farmajo, who is facing a re-election nightmare in Somalia, tendered an apology to Somaliland over "atrocities committed by previous regimes" in a statement he issued after the Addis Ababa meeting.

Besides Abiy Ahmed's latest efforts to reconcile the two sides, a committee was constituted in 2015 to deliberate the matter to the conclusion but it's yet to make any significant progress.


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