US rules out recognition of Somaliland ahead of Somalia's presidential poll

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HARGEISA, Somalia - The United States will not promote the secessionist ideology being pushed by Somaliland, two senior US officials have maintained, just over a month after President Muse Bihi Abdi visited Washington to rally for statehood in the region.

And rather, the US now maintains it will continue promoting a single Somalia policy, that advocates for close cooperation between the South and the North, which have been wrangling for the last three decades.

Larry Andre, the new US ambassador to Somalia, and General Stephen Townsend, the commander of US Africa Command, on Thursday, visited Hargeisa, the regional administrative capital of Somaliland, where they pushed for the US agenda for Somalia.

"Amb. André and US Africa Command Gen. Townsend met with Muse Bihi today. The leaders discussed furthering our cooperation within the context of our single Somalia policy," the US embassy said. "They also met with Berbera port and airport officials, then viewed the port by helicopter."

The US delegates' visit comes amidst last preparations ahead of the anticipated Somalia presidential election following a prolonged poll process. This also marks Ambassador Larry's first visit to Somaliland since taking office as the head of the US mission in Somalia.

On Sunday, Somalia will be holding a presidential election which has triggered fierce contests, pitting outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud among other potential winners.

The northern regions [Somaliland] have elected their senators and Lower House members mainly domiciled in Mogadishu to represent them in the Federal government in the capital. The senate speaker Abdi Hashi and the deputy PM Mahdi Guled hail from Somaliland.

The region is also pushing for the building of a US military base and has even threatened to cooperate with China.

China has been penetrating markets in Africa by directly participating in the development agenda, further triggering massive economic and military interests by the US. Washington is keen to edge Beijing out of the Horn of Africa thus frequent visits to the region.

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