Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Ahmed Awad, has all but put to rest a bubbling Twitter traction over a photo taken in Saudi Arabia between Somali cabinet ministers and a Somaliland delegation.
According to him, the photo needed not be overly interpreted beyond being just a photo. He said he was pleased to meet the Somaliland delegation led by its president Muse Biihi but that all exchanges were apolitical.
“Happy to have met with President Muse Biihi and his delegation during Hajj. This was a cordial meeting between brothers at the most blessed and Holiest of Muslim sites.
“We enjoyed friendly conversations – which did not include political discussions for those who may be curious,” he said in a tweet accompanied by the said photo.
Happy to have met with President— Amb. Ahmed Awad (MinisterMOFA) August 13, 2019
musebiihiand his delegation during #Hajj. This was a cordial meeting between brothers at the most blessed and Holiest of Muslim sites. We enjoyed friendly conversations - which did not include political discussions for those who may be curious. pic.twitter.com/1bzRQIeXnJ
It was Minister Awad who issued the notice of Somalia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Guinea over the West African nation’s relations with Somaliland. Guinean president Alpha Conde “officially” invited the Somaliland president to Conakry and accorded him presidential courtesies.
It was that action that angered Mogadishu leading to the diplomatic decision. Somaliland – a semi-autonomous part of Somalia – has for years now been campaigning for international recognition but with very little success.
Talks between Mogadishu and Hargeisa have severally been proposed but have not taken place. The last concrete attempt was by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in February this year but eventually both leaders – Somalia, Somaliland met Abiy separately.
Somalia, Somaliland rift
Somaliland declared unilateral independence from Somalia on May 18, 1991, but despite having its own currency, parliament, military and legal system, it is still under pressure to hold talks with Somalia.
It is regarded by the international community as a semi-autonomous region of Somalia and not a sovereign state.
Last year, Somalia and Somaliland engaged in a war of words following the signing of an agreement to manage the latter’s Berbera port.
Under the tripartite agreement signed in March, Ethiopia acquired a 19% stake in the port, joining Somaliland and DP World of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) under a 30 year concession.
Somalia declared the agreement ‘null and void’ saying Somaliland had no authority to enter into international agreements, to which Somaliland responded by saying FGS had ‘declared war’.