Somaliland troops pull back from the disputed town with Puntland

Somaliland troops pull back from the disputed town with Puntland

Kanako Mita and Hiroshi Saito

Modern Tokyo Times

Tensions erupted in a town disputed by Somaliland and Puntland. Unlike Somalia, breakaway Somaliland is relatively peaceful and evades the ongoing al-Shabaab (al-Shabab) insurgency in Somalia. However, in disputed regions of the semi-autonomous Puntland and Somaliland, clashes break out from time to time – even if on a minor scale, compared with events in Somalia.

After anti-government protests broke out in a sensitive area between Somaliland and Puntland, clashes resulted in the deaths of between 15 and 20 people.

Voice of America reports, “Security forces in Somalia’s breakaway republic of Somaliland on Thursday withdrew from the contested border town of Las Anod after days of deadly protests. The town is claimed by Somalia’s Puntland State but run by Somaliland, which broke from Somalia in 1991. Anti-government protests erupted there last week after a politician was shot dead, leading to clashes with police in which at least eight other people were killed.”

The Vice President of Puntland, Ahmed Elmi Osman Karash, uttered, “What is being done by the Somaliland army is a massacre of civilians.”

However, Somaliland disputes this. Hence, the Minister of Information of Somaliland, Saleebaan Cali Koore, called for protests to end and for negotiations to begin to quell the crisis.

President Muse Bihi of Somaliland played down the recent unrest. He said it was an “incidental clash between the police and the people.”

Lee Jay Walker says, “Somaliland broke away from Somalia after declaring independence in 1991. However, despite greater stability than Somalia and all the hallmarks of a viable nation-state, the international community isn’t on board. Therefore, this is hindering the economic development of Somaliland.

Africa News reports (last year), “For 30 years, Somaliland has tried unsuccessfully to convince the world of its case for statehood, holding democratic elections and avoiding the anarchy that engulfed the rest of Somalia.”

The East African reports – concerning the area that witnessed recent clashes – “There is, however, no agreement in Sool — the area that borders Puntland state — on whether to secede or remain in the Union. The idea of Somaliland was formed by then rebel group the Somali National Movement (SNM) that fought the Siad Barre regime. It was led by Isak clansmen.”

Troops from Somaliland have withdrawn security forces from the disputed area. Hence, it is hoped that local and regional leaders will quell the bloodshed and seek mutual accommodation.

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