30 January 2013

Somalia: President Silanyo 'Disappointed' With UK Threat Alert On Somaliland Security

Hargeisa — The president of Somalia's separatist region of Somaliland made his annual address to the two houses of Parliament on Wednesday, where he discussed a range of issues including the British government's warning for Westerners to evacuate Somaliland due to a 'specific threat', Garowe Online reports.

President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo delivered his annual speech to the two houses of Parliament in Hargeisa, capital of the separatist region of Somaliland, in northwestern Somalia.

President Silanyo stated that his administration has improved security in Somaliland, saying: "We have increased Somaliland military with 1,800 new soldiers after removing 2,500 ghost soldiers and we have provided training and new vehicles. We also plan to introduce ranking system for 5,000 officers. We have rehabilitated military hospitals in Hargeisa and Burao and built a new training school that has produced successive graduates."

Somaliland's leader said his administration trained 3,900 new police officers, including over 600 women police officers.

Continuing, the Somaliland leader noted that his administration "ensured peaceful local elections at more than 1,800 voting polls", adding that Somaliland paid 33% of local elections cost, an increase to its expected 25% contribution.

He thanked all seven political associations that participated in Somaliland's local elections, held in Nov. 2012. He particularly thanked the leadership of the four political associations that were disqualified for accepting the final results.

"In 2010, my administration inherited massive debt and an empty treasury with a $50million annual budget. Today, the Somaliland combined budget for 2013 is $174million," said President Silanyo.

He said that Somaliland produced over 6,600 university graduates last year who need jobs, adding that this underlines Somaliland's commitment to educate citizens, as "there is no greater enemy than ignorance".

President Silanyo noted that the current administration has made achievements in livestock sector, road rehabilitation and human resource development.

"My administration has helped to resolve conflicts, such as in Buhodle and Kalshale areas. Today the leadership of SSC (Sool, Sanaag and Cayn) armed group is a part of the Somaliland government," he said.

On Oct. 13, 2012, President Silanyo appointed former SSC leader Saleban Isse Ahmed Haglatosiye as Somaliland's resettlement minister. However, armed clashes took place in Nov. 2012, with community militia in Huddun district violently opposing Somaliland's local elections to take place in Sool and Sanaag regions, and the Somaliland Election Commission later cancelled local elections in Sool and Sanaag, regions claimed by neighboring Puntland.

President Silanyo said the U.S. government's recognition of the new Somali federal government in Mogadishu "does not concern Somaliland", saying: "Somaliland restored its statehood in 1991 and has since been seeking international recognition. We do not resent this [U.S. decision] and we welcome peace and development for our brothers in Somalia."

Addressing the UK government's decision, President Silanyo said: "Somaliland has historic relations and cooperation with UK government, but I am disappointed with the UK Foreign Office's announcement that there is insecurity in Somaliland, as this announcement did not value relations between the two sides, and I view it as a hasty decision."

On Jan. 27, Britain's Foreign Office issued a public statement, saying: "Terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against Westerners and those working for Western organizations in Somalia, including Somaliland. We are now aware of a specific threat to Westerns in Somaliland and urge any British nationals who remain there against our advice to leave immediately."

After his speech, President Silanyo and Somaliland government leaders walked from Parliament among hundreds of people protesting against the UK government's public announcement warning British nationals and Westerners to evacuate Somaliland due to a security threat.

In the past, Puntland leaders have publicly accused Somaliland government officials of being linked to Al Shabaab terrorist group, which has waged relentless attacks in Mogadishu, other southern towns, and Golis mountains of Puntland, but has largely spared any terrorism attacks in Somaliland, as Al Shabaab chief Ahmed Abdi Godane hails from Somaliland.

Somaliland, located in northwestern Somalia, is a former British protectorate that unilaterally declared independence from the rest of the country in 1991 but has not been internationally recognized.

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