Somaliland president links LasAnod protests to terrorism

Hargeisa (Caasimada Online) – The President of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, has linked the recent unrest in the city of Lasanod in the northern Sool region of Somalia to international terrorism.

The protests in early January were sparked by the assassination of a prominent young local politician, Abdifatah Abdullahi Abdi Hadrawi after he left a mosque. Somaliland was accused of the killing, although it has vehemently denied it. 

The killing has sparked outrage in the previously stable region and led to the deaths of at least 20 people after Somaliland forces used excessive force to quell the protest.  

However, in a speech given yesterday at the presidential palace, President Bihi stated that the “terrorists are responsible” for the turmoil in LasAnod, “and the killings” of local leaders, in an attempt to “pit the population and the government of Somaliland against each other.”

“I want to make it clear here and to inform the world that the current situation in LasAnod is sparked by international terrorism. The youth and the protestors are not united in evil and animosity towards the Republic of Somaliland,” said Bihi.

The President also claimed that the “terrorists had a far-reaching plan to assassinate” the leaders and officials serving in Lasanod for Somaliland to undermine the government.

“The terrorists have been planning this for a long time and infiltrated every aspect of society. It is in their interest and what they want is to control the population and create animosity among them solely,” Bihi stated.

Bihi referred to the terrorists as Kharijites, though he did not name any group.

Bihi’s statement is seen as an attempt by Somaliland to assert control over LasAnod if they are unable to do so through other means, as the fight against terrorism is justifiable in the eyes of the world, according to politicians from the region who spoke to Caasimada Online.

Elders and local leaders from the region have been holding meetings in LasAnod in recent days to discuss their future. One of the expected outcomes of the meetings is a declaration that they will no longer be part of the Somaliland government.

Despite this, the President of Somaliland expressed confidence in the meetings and stated that they would not be different from previous ones aimed at preventing violence.

“The government of Somaliland, with its leaders here today, is ready to address any and all issues. We are ready to discuss any grievances against the government peacefully and collectively to restore peace and stability,” he said.

However, President Bihi warned that the Somaliland government would not tolerate anyone who spreads chaos and terror within society and opposes the established legal institutions. 

Somaliland, a region located northwest of Somalia, declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but has not been recognized as an independent country by the international community. 

Despite this, the region has its own government, parliament, constitution, and a long self-governance history.