Somaliland picks "fight" with US ambassador to Somalia Larry Andre
HARGEISA, Somalia - A bruising battle is looming between the US envoy to Somalia Larry Andre, and the breakaway region of Somaliland, as the latter increases the call for statehood which has been hanging on for three decades despite massive lobbying both in boardrooms and shuttle diplomacy which is yet to yield fruits.
In a tweet by the breakaway region's Foreign Affairs department, Hargeisa has slammed Larry Andre for failing to use the proper term whole referring to Somaliland, with the latest comments being triggered by the impending training of US military and partners in Berbera.
"It is unacceptable that Larry Andre, the US ambassador in Mogadishu, continuously avoids referring to Somaliland by its proper name and instead refers to it as a region of Somalia, lumping Berbera with Somalia despite knowing fully well that Somaliland is not a region of Somalia," the department said.
The US has already sent an advance team whose sole duty will be preparing the military to train in Berbera which is found in Somaliland. This is the first time the US military is picking Somalia as the destination for intensive training which is set to last for a couple of days.
Somaliland argued that it was improper for the ambassador to continue referring to it as a " region" in Somalia, adding that such an approach robs the people of much-deserved dignity. The region insists that it is an independent state which is not subordinate to Mogadishu.
"Referring to Somaliland as a region of Somalia is an affront to the dignity of our people and our country. Somaliland hosts US Military Missions carrying out their military mandated exercise," the region added in a stern statement which could potentially ignite a rift between Washington and Hargeisa and possibly, Mogadishu.
"We wonder if Ambassador Andre has an ulterior motive. As has been the practice the Republic of Somaliland is always ready to cooperate with the United States, " added the statement, in full acknowledgment that Somaliland is a state, contrary to provisions by the United Nations Security Council.
Last year, the US will continue engaging Somaliland within the framework of its single policy on Somalia, ruling out plans for recognition after Muse Bihi visited Washington. [Read here].
For three decades, the breakaway region has running independent affairs including a functional Central Bank, legislature, and central government which is accountable to the people of the region. Somaliland claims to have gained independence from Somalia in 1991 but Mogadishu contexts the assumptions.