Somaliland goes rogue, deports over 700 people from Southern Somalia
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somaliland under pressure and faced backlash after evicting over 700 traders who originate from Southern Somalia, which has been embroiled in a long-term battle with the North over historical differences.
Somaliland authorities kicked out 750 people, including traders, women, and children from Las Anod in Sool region which has also been an epicenter of conflict since 2007. The region is contested by both Somaliland and Puntland.
Witnesses said that the deportees included children who were born and educated in the city, adding that their businesses were left behind. It's not clear why Hargeisa decided to take drastic measures but insiders said the move is related to "security".
Somaliland's police boss in Sool region said the people from southern Somalia are "foreigners" and will treat them like Ethiopians, a move that drew wider condemnations.
In 2019, Puntland rejected the decision by Djibouti and Ethiopia to lead talks between Somaliland and Somalia, arguing that it was not involved due to a long-term dispute with Hargeisa over Sool and Las Anod.
And in what seems to be retaliation, businessmen from southern Somalia living in Bossaso have announced that they will not open their businesses on Sunday [today] and will hold a demonstration against the Somaliland administration's move to expel people from southwest Somalia.
Bossaso, the commercial city in Puntland state which neighbors Somaliland. In 1991, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia after a cruel marriage of almost three decades but it's yet to be recognized as a country by the United Nations.
Somalia's ex-senator Ilyas Ali Hassan slammed Somaliland's move to forcibly deport hundreds of Somalis from the south, including traders, women, and children. He demanded an apology from Somaliland for labeling citizens in their country as foreigners.
In Mogadishu, senior government officials led by Information Minister Osman Dubbe have condemned the incident. Dubbe said he was deeply saddened by the deportation of Somalis in Las Anod and called on the people of Las Anod to preserve their Somali identity.
"The ongoing deportation of Somalis from Las Anod saddens me. The people of Las Anod have always had a tradition of hospitality and Somaliness. I hope they will preserve that good tradition, and the Somali people around them can feel safe," he noted.
Abdikadir Mohamed Nur, who is the Justice Minister for FGS, also spoke about the deportation, saying that Somaliland's deportation of people from southern Somalia, was "simply unfortunate".
This comes just a few days after Hargeisa threatened to arrest a number of delegates from the north who participated in Senatorial elections for Somaliland in Mogadishu.
Somaliland dismissed the polls, arguing that it's an independent nation thus has no stake in federal parliament. Under current Somalia's federal system, Somaliland is allocated 11 Senatorial seats in the federal senate, with representatives expected to represent its interests.
On Saturday, Somaliland's opposition UCID party leader Faisal Ali Warabe called for UN envoy James Swan to be banned from Somaliland after supporting the election of the 11 senators representing the north in the next Somalia's parliament.