By: Yusuf M Hasan
KAMPALA (Somalilandsun) – The Somaliland government has opened direct bi-lateral talks with counterparts from Uganda.
The Somaliland foreign minister Mr. Mohamed Bihi Yonis is fronting the talks in Kampala where he arrived late yesterday accompanied by his country’s representative in Kenya Ambassador Mohamed Abdilahi Sifir.
Upon arrival in Uganda the foreign minister and Amb Sifir were met at Entebbe International airport in Kampala by senior Uganda foreign ministry officials as well as a large number of students and nationals of Somaliland based in the East African country.
FM Bihi Yonis who was briefed by the head of the Somaliland students and Community leaders in Uganda Mr. Abdirizaq Daud Egal and Mr. Ismail Eidaan whose briefing of their member’s situation in Uganda was reciprocated by a similar briefing on the home front by the minister.
Though our reports remain unclear sources indicate that FM Bihi and Dr Sifir who are expected to meet with the topmost leadership of Uganda have so far held discussions with foreign ministry officials.
Since assuming the Somaliland foreign policies mantle a couple of months back Uganda becomes the third African country to be visited on official duties by Mohamed Bihi Yonis following visits to Ethiopia and Djibouti.
Uganda has for the last couple of years become a major player in Horn Africa issues following its dispatch of troops to AMISOM and leadership of the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia that has seen hundreds of the east African soldiers die or get injured during engagement with Al-Shabaab an islamist group fighting the Somalia Federal Government for control of the country.
The visit buy Bihi becomes also the first diplomatic fray by Somaliland to that country and it is hoped that the Ugandans who hold sway with the Mogadishu based administration might intervene as per the postponed talks between Somaliland and Somalia.
Somalia which has once again requested postponement of the fourth phase of the internationally sanctioned talks to have been last month in Turkey is rumoured to be afraid of facing somalilanders at an international negotiating table since the Hargeisa administration has categorically stressed on the fact that nothing but separation shall be on the talks agenda.
The republic of Somaliland which has operated without international recognition for two decades withdrew from its 1960 voluntary union with Somalia in 1991 following a brutal civil war in the 1980’s that ensued after forces loyal to then dictator Mohamed Siad Barre massacred over 60,000 civilians.
As its former partner in union Somalia remains in turmoil with every clan claiming creation of an administrative region and the internationally fronted Federal government just barely, managing to hold on to the capital Mogadishu courtesy of African Union Forces, Somaliland though unrecognized has become synonymous as a bastion of peace and democracy in the turbulent Horn region