Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Somalia: We Will Reach International Border, Says Somaliland Leader


The leader of Somalia's breakaway sub-state of Somaliland has said that his administration intends to reach the international border established during colonial times.

Dahir Riyale, president of the breakaway Somaliland republic, told the Voice of America's Somali program that Somaliland and Somalia combined to form the first Somali Republic.

"Somalia was two countries that combined [in 1960]," Mr. Riyale said. "The third country in the middle known as Puntland is meaningless."

Puntland was formed when a coalition of Somali clans united and formed a regional administration, with land stretching deep into territory claimed by Somaliland's separatist leaders.

In October, Somaliland troops finally expelled Puntland from the key town of Las Anod that has become the centerpiece of the Somaliland-Puntland ' border' conflict since 2002.

According to Mr. Riyale, Somaliland is in Las Anod "by want of the people."

"We control Las Anod because of local support. We were outside Las Anod for a while and waited until the people wanted us [Somaliland]," Mr. Riyale said.

He downsized the significance of clan elders, saying: "The elders can say whatever they want. Our intention is to reach the international border and to protect our territorial integrity."

Clan elders belonging to the Dhulbahante clan, the dominant community in Sool region where Las Anod is located, have repeatedly demanded that Somaliland withdraw its soldiers from Sool.
The Somaliland leader said there is "no one in the south to talk to." He pointed to the violence in the capital Mogadishu, where war rages between insurgents and Ethiopian-backed government forces.

"Who invited Ethiopia? The people of Southern Somalia and its parliament invited the Ethiopian army to assist them," Riyale said.

He admitted that the road to international recognition is a long and difficult one, but underscored that his administration brought more attention to Somaliland.

He pointed to an African Union fact-finding mission that visited Somaliland and drafted a report.
Riyale said Somaliland has a democratic government and is a land where press freedom is protected. But he warned politicians and media organizations who violate the breakaway republic's laws.

"Law without punishment is not law at all," Mr. Riyale said.

Source: Garowe

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