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Breakaway Somaliland says will not discuss unification with Somalia

Tuesday September 26, 2023

The breakaway region of Somaliland said it has no plans to discuss unity with Somalia, appearing to contradict Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni who said he would act as a "unification mediator" between the two governments.

Somaliland's government declared autonomy from Somalia in 1991, but has not gained widespread international recognition for independence.

"Any dialogue that transpires between Somaliland and Somalia will not discuss unification, but rather how the two previously united countries can move forward separately," Somaliland's government said in a statement late on Sunday.

Somaliland, which has remained largely peaceful for over three decades while its neighbour has been convulsed by civil war, said it "has no plans for dialogue to discuss unity with Somalia."

Some clan elders in disputed areas along Somaliland's border with Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland state say they want to be part of Puntland rather than Somaliland.

Heavy fighting broke out between Somaliland forces and militiamen in and around the town of Las Anod in one such area in February.

Museveni's statement came a day after meeting Jama Musse Jama, a special envoy for Somaliland, in which he said "Somalia and Somaliland should do away with politics of identity if they want prosperity for their country".

Museveni's deputy press secretary said Uganda's state house had no comment on Somaliland's statement.

Somalia's information and interior ministers did not immediately respond to requests for comment, though Somalia's position has consistently been that it considers Somaliland part of Somalia and wants unification.

Reporting by Aaron Ross; Additional reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Estelle Shirbon