Hargeisa (Caasimada Online) – Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi sought to allay fears of a looming threat from anti-government rebels on Sunday, downplaying the rebels’ capabilities and intentions.
“The militias’ portrayal as a significant threat on social media is exaggerated,” Bihi said during a forum in Hargeisa. “I believe there will be no major problems. The people are committed to peace, and there is no readiness for internal fighting.”
Bihi attributed the rebels’ actions to typical political rivalries that often arise during elections, and he assured opposition officials that their dissent would not be met with government repression.
“I want to assure all opposition parties that they will be able to participate in the upcoming elections without fear of reprisal,” Bihi said. “We are committed to a fair and transparent electoral process.”
However, the rebel group’s spokesman, Ahmed Ali Haybe, disputed Bihi’s situation assessment. He claimed that the militia’s recent activity in the mountains was in response to President Bihi’s use of force against the opposition.
“We are not afraid of the government’s threats,” Haybe said. “We will continue to fight for our freedom until the people of Somaliland are free from oppression.”
The emergence of the anti-government rebels has raised concerns about the stability of Somaliland. Any other country has not recognized this self-declared independent state.
However, Bihi’s assurances that the situation is under control have helped to ease some of those concerns.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991, but any other country has not recognized it. The region has been relatively peaceful since then, but occasional outbreaks of violence have occurred.
In recent months, there have been reports of increased activity by anti-government rebels in Ga’an Libax Mountain. The rebels have claimed to be fighting for the independence of Somaliland. However, the government has accused them of being bandits or criminals.
Bihi’s assurances that the situation is under control may be premature. The rebels have shown they are willing to use violence, and whether the government has the resources to suppress them is unclear.
The emergence of the rebels could also have a negative impact on Somaliland’s economy. The region is struggling to attract investment, and the violence could deter investors.