UN envoy calls for calm and dialogue following clashes between Somaliland and Puntland

By Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

The Special Representative of Secretary-General for Somalia, Michael Keating on Tuesday arrived in Hargeisa to de-escalate military tension between the semi-autonomous regional state of Puntland and the breakaway region of Somaliland.

“Our position is to try and reduce tensions (and) to increase dialogue very quickly between both sides so that if there are misunderstandings, these are clarified,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, while in Hargeisa, the capital of ‘Somaliland.’

“If there are genuine differences, then they have to be subject to immediate discussion,” he added. “But resorting to military solutions and to violence is not the way to resolve these problems.”

Keating and his delegate held talks with President, Muse Bihi Abdi at his palace – their first meeting since the latter was elected late last year.

“I was very impressed by and grateful to the President for his commitment, borne from his many decades of personal experience, of the importance of finding peaceful solutions to problems, “ he said, “and that a priority must be to try and prevent violence of any kind, whether in ‘Somaliland,’ or, indeed, between ‘Somaliland’ and others.”

Speaking to the media in Hargeisa Keating said he had a discussion with Somaliland president on wide range issues including the recent clashes the forces of Somaliland and Puntland in Tukaraq town of Sool region.

“The main agenda of my trip was discussed with Somaliland and ease the tension and giving the upper hand on how the two can start a dialogue. If there is a dispute, military offensive is not the solution and the way to solve the current problem” Keating told the reporters.

Keating’s visit coincides with the Federal Government’s call for a comprehensive ceasefire between the sides.

Somali minister for information, Abdirahman Omar Osman said Somali government is planning to end the hostilities between Puntland and Somaliland through negotiation.

“The Federal Government of Somalia calls on all sides to immediately and without condition to stop the conflict in Tukaraq area of Sool region. The FGS plans to solve all conflicts through peaceful means as violence breeds violence,” said the minister in a twitter post.

The clashes on Monday erupted after soldiers loyal to Somaliland reportedly invaded Tukaraq town which is part of a disputed area claimed by both Somaliland and Puntland government.