Somaliland's Interior minister visits Kenya amid quest for recognition


NAIROBI, Kenya - A minister from Somaliland is in Nairobi for a series of meetings with senior government officials from the East Africa nation, it has emerged, with the quest for statehood likely to dominate the trip according to those in the know-how.

Interior Minister Mohamed Kahin Ahmed arrived in Nairobi on Monday in the company of top officials from his ministry but it's not clear how long will spend in Nairobi. The team was ushered in by Somaliland's Head of Liaison Office in Nairobi, Bashe Awil Omar, a diplomat who was formerly in the United Arab Emirates.

His trip comes amid calls for international recognition of the region which claims to have seceded from Somalia in 1991. Since then, Hargeisa has been running a parallel government from that of Mogadishu, further affirming efforts to be given nationhood by the United Nations.

In a tweet, Ambassador Omar termed the minister's trip as a "working visit" adding that he will be "holding meetings in several offices". However, he did not disclose some of the people the official will meet in Kenya during his stay which is likely to last for several days.

"Our Minister of Interior Hon. Mohamed Kahin Ahmed and a delegation led by him arrived in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on a working visit," Omar, who assumed duties as the Head of Liaison Office in 2018 said in a tweet on Monday while displaying photos of the entire delegation.

"The Minister visited Somaliland mission in Kenya and will be holding meetings in the coming days with several offices," he added without delving into finer details. Nairobi is one of about 27 cities where Somaliland has established offices.

Although Omar did not respond to questions about the trip which were filed by Garowe Online, it's however known that Somaliland has shifted to Kenya for help to attain nationhood status, and the matter is said to be at an advanced stage.

Kenya sits in the United Nations Security Council and is keen to get more allies in the fight against Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militants.

In June, Garowe Online exclusively reported about a motion on recognition of Somaliland which is in Kenya's cabinet for debate. It's understood that President Uhuru Kenyatta delegated the matter to his trusted Interior and National Coordination minister Fred Matiang'i to assess the impact of pushing the motion at the security council.

A source privy to the discussion hinted that Bihi was to visit Kenya before the end of this year where he was scheduled to meet the country's opposition leader Raila Odinga. Besides calling shots in government having reconciled with Uhuru, Odinga is also a respected statesman and chairs the African Union Infrastructural Development team.

"We are expecting that President Bihi would be visiting Kenya soon where he will meet Raila Odinga for discussion over this matter," the source had said. Also, a trusted aide of Mr. Odinga had early this year hinted to Garowe Online that "the boss will also visit Hargeisa when all logistics have been put in place".

For a long time, Kenya has been having a major interest in Somaliland with analysts saying that Nairobi will use the advantage of Hargeisa's recognition to effectively fight Al-Shabaab. Currently, Kenya uses Jubaland as a buffer zone in the war, a move that has persistently triggered conflicts between Nairobi and Mogadishu.

Efforts to reconcile Somaliland and Somalia have largely failed with the most recent conference that was planned by Djibouti President Omar Guelleh and Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed failing to come out with a binding solution. During the Djibouti conference in July, Muse Bihi insisted that "we shall not take something less than statehood".

The breakaway region of Somaliland recently recognized ties with Taiwan and East Asia Island which is claimed by China, in a move that triggered retribution from both Beijing and Mogadishu.


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