The Somaliland foreign affairs ministry released the following statement regarding concerns of the international community regarding the continued violence in Las’anod.
The Government of the Republic of Somaliland shares the concerns of the international community regarding the continued violence in Las’anod, which was prompted by the assassination of a Somaliland politician in December, subsequent incursions by external forces, and attacks on civilian areas, including the residence where several Somaliland Cabinet Ministers were addressing concerns of the community members.
In a good-faith effort and to contain the violence and restore stability, the Somaliland government pulled back its security forces from Las’anod, declared a unilateral ceasefire and encouraged all other parties to join. The government also supported a Peace Mission by Somaliland’s clan elders to initiate dialogue, and welcomed the initiative taken by neighboring governments to mediate an end to hostilities.
However, those who provoked this conflict have rejected all these efforts. Instead, they have continued to engage in incitement, violence, and misinformation to further destabilize the region and challenge the Republic of Somaliland’s sovereignty. Over the last two months, Somaliland’s military has been under constant, unprovoked attacks whilst they have been striving to contain the instability and avoid further military escalation to prevent harm to civilians.
To date, negotiations with local community leaders have been foiled by escalating attacks by numerous armed groups. These groups include members of Al-Shabaab, who were displaced from their safe havens in Somalia by U.S. supported counter-terrorism activities, members of the Puntland Security Forces, and of the Somali National Army, including high ranking Commander of the U.S. trained 4th battalion “Danab Brigade”, who was subsequently killed during an assault targeting Somaliland military units.
Like all other governments, the Republic of Somaliland has the right to defend its territorial integrity, and our Armed Forces have been doing so with restraint and professionalism.
Despite this difficult situation, the Somaliland government’s requests for U.S. support to convince Puntland authorities to stop the flow of fighters and arms from their territory into Las’anod, or to allow local elders to engage in talks, have yet to be answered. As a result, armed militias have operated with impunity in Las’anod, intimidating local leaders who desire to engage in political dialogue with the government and enabling a permissive environment for terrorists. Failure by the U.S. and others to engage constructively, objectively, and dispassionately risks emboldening these militias and prolonging the conflict.
The Government of the Republic of Somaliland once again urges the United States, the African Union, and the International Community to work in solidarity with our people to restore security in Las’anod and support a long-lasting solution that includes recognition of Somaliland’s sovereignty.
Regardless of these challenges, we are determined to implement democratic elections, a right that the government has protected and a process that serves as a model for the region.
In accordance with our laws, the National Electoral Commission is mandated to organize elections in our country. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the National Electoral Commission to develop the roadmap for the elections.