By Odindo Ayieko
Somaliland’s quest for autonomy and international recognition has received a massive boost following a visit by ambassadors from European Nations and the European Union.
“We are here as some of the close friends of Somaliland,” Danish Ambassador Mette Knudsen said in her address when they met Somaliland president Musa Bihi at the Presidential Palace in Hergeisa last week.
The delegation includes representatives of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, the UK and the European Union.
Their discussions touched on the relationship between Somaliland and it’s regional neighbours, the drought situation in the country, the democratisation of the politics in the country and the forthcoming elections.
“Glad to receive a High Level Delegation from Denmark, UK, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Switzerland along with the EU Ambassador,” President Bihi said.
“We discussed elections, Somaliland- Somalia dialogue, drought, humanitarian aid, regional security and the dynamics in the Horn of Africa,” he added
But of curiosity was one of the tweets later when the European guests took a walk down the busy streets of Somaliland capital Hargeisa.
Said Charles William: “Fantastic, I remember when the South Sudan referendum was happening, the international community was overseeing the whole process. I hope one day I will witness another one commencing in Somaliland.”
This was a clear indicator the envoys’ visit had something to do with Somaliland’s push to for international recognition.
Somaliland, formerly and British protectorate merged with Somalia in 1961 buy opted out of the union after the break of the civil war in 1990. The country has since been pushing for international recognition.
During their meeting with president Bihi, the ambassadors were impressed with the level of democracy and development in the country despite lack of recognition.
But they also expressed their desire to see Somaliland and Somalia resuming talks aimed at bringing a lasting solution to their differences.
“We were very pleased with the strong commitment from the President to have a good dialogue with Somalia,” Amb Knudsen stated
She added that the discussions they had with the President and his government also covered the upcoming elections as members of the delegation were supporters of Somaliland’s ‘democratic processes.
“Besides it being obvious, that holding the elections on time and as promised is ‘part of the good image that Somaliland has in the international community’ it is imperative that Somaliland does not discontinue its democratic record which it has set in the past,” said the Danish envoy.
The delegation also expressed its concern on the humanitarian situation in Somaliland caused by the continued drought in the country
Present at the meeting on the Somaliland side besides the President were the Vice president, Abdirahman Abdullahi Ismail, Minister for Interior, Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, the Foreign Minister, Professor Faratoon, Finance, Dr Sa’ad Ali Shire, and Planning, Awale Ibrahim Shirwa’.
With Ambassador Mette Knudsen, Denmark, there was, also, Ambassador Fulgencio Garrido Ruiz of the European Union, Ambassador Ben Fender of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Elin Bergithe Rognilie of Norway, Ambassador Andreas Von Uexkull of Sweden and high Embassy representatives from Switzerland and Finland.
Source: East African Business Week