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Why Somaliland, Ethiopia port deal is good for the region

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On January 1, 2024, a Memorandum of Understanding between Somaliland and Ethiopia was signed by H.E. President Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland and H.E. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia which has instigated regional, international, and global geopolitical contests. Somaliland Representative to Kenya Ambassador Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamoud elaborates on the issues surrounding the deal and the geopolitical tensions that have arisen because of the memorandum of understanding.

Questions:

What promoted Somaliland to enter this deal with Ethiopia at this moment?

A: First, the Republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia share common interests in security, trade, and deep-historical ties of people-to-people relations. Second, Somaliland and Ethiopia have worked together on many fronts over the last three decades, and the recently signed MOU will only further enhance socio-economic, security, political, and diplomatic engagement between the two countries. Third, as with other countries in the world, Somaliland has the right to enter bilateral deals that advance its national interests and priorities. Somaliland is more than capable of managing bilateral and multilateral agreements with other countries, and this cannot be stopped by anyone.

Following Somalia’s vehement protests against the Somaliland-Ethiopia MOU agreement, how has Somaliland reacted to these oppositions?

A: Somalia has remained a failed state for decades and has actively but unsuccessfully sought to stifle Somaliland’s growth as a democratically, sovereign nation. This is not the first time Somalia has protested an agreement Somaliland has entered. In 2018, Somalia protested Somaliland’s Berbera Port modernization agreement with UAE’s DP World, but their protests lacked legal backing and support. The reality is that countries in the Horn of Africa region and the international community are cognizant of Somaliland’s sovereign status and its capacity to manage its affairs in accordance with its own national laws while upholding regional and international instruments. Because of this, a cooperative partnership between Somaliland and Ethiopia in trade, security, and development will also contribute more benefits for the entire East African community, and beyond.

There are concerns among several regional states regarding this MOU. How can you address these concerns and persuade countries that remain skeptical?

A: The Government of the Republic of Somaliland continues to reassure all concerned parties that this agreement with Ethiopia will only positively serve the Horn of Africa region and beyond. This deal is in line with both bilateral and multilateral cooperation as it promotes regional economic integration, free trade flow, and development. It also fosters international cooperation and foreign investment which will significantly contribute to regional economic growth. It is important to note that leasing a military naval base is not unprecedented in the Horn of Africa region. Somaliland’s neighbor, Djibouti, has hosted several naval bases for many years now. Parties that have expressed concerns over the Somaliland-Ethiopia need to start looking at this deal from a very objective lens that is not based on baseless rhetoric propagated by Somaliland enemies. The Republic of Somaliland is a frontier and a major contributor to regional peace and international security. Neighboring countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Somalia have benefited from Somaliland’s commitment to safeguarding regional stability both onshore and offshore over the past three decades.

Several countries and members of the international community, specifically belonging to bilateral and multilateral institutions, who have spoken of the deal have also raised concerns about this deal in fear that the agreement can potentially instigate new conflict in the region. How do you see these calls?

A: The Somaliland – Ethiopia agreement will not contribute to regional instability. It is important to demystify this deal and examine the facts which is that the Somaliland-Ethiopia agreement will make the Horn of Africa region more prosperous and economically viable. In addition, a midst escalating insecurity in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden with fuel and trade costs rising, a Somaliland-Ethiopia cooperation would significantly contribute to maritime security and stability in the region.

It seems that this deal raised a lot of regional and international dynamics how do Somaliland and Ethiopia manage these dynamics?

A: Somaliland and Ethiopia play a crucial role in maintaining regional and international stability, and their bilateral cooperation will benefit the entire Horn and East Africa region. Somaliland and Ethiopia are both committed to advancing regional economic integration, combating terrorism, mitigating the impact of climate change, and supporting neighboring countries in matters of security and stability.

How will Ethiopia recognizing Somaliland, as stipulated in the MOU, impact regional and global affairs?

A: When Somaliland gains its inalienable rights of international recognition, this will present an opportunity for the region and the overall continent. Somaliland has achieved notable milestones since re-gaining its sovereign and territorial integrity on 18 May 1991. The Somaliland case is a unique one and differs from the historical experiences of other countries. Despite lacking international recognition, Somaliland hosts many citizens from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Many people visit Somaliland and choose to stay in the country for extended periods of time because not only does Somaliland have peace, but it is a country that has long upheld its democratic national values which enhance economic opportunity for all.

If Ethiopia recognizes Somaliland, do you expect that other countries will follow suit?

A: Yes, we are very optimistic, and hopeful that many countries in Africa and elsewhere will follow this momentum because many countries see Somaliland as a reliable and valuable partner for regional and global affairs of peace, security, economic development, and Somaliland’s geopolitical landscape has also a lot of significance as Red Sea- Gulf of Aden is the main gateway of the global trade and maritime. In other words, the regional and international communities are all aware that since 1991 Somaliland pursued its democratic statehood without much assistance from the international community. In this regard, Somaliland is not burdened or dependent on external assistance but Somaliland peacebuilding and state-building trajectory rooted in our unique experiences of political and social resilience. In the meantime, it is notable to underline that the Republic of Somaliland has fulfilled the criteria of statehood laid down by international law so no doubt that the recognition of Somaliland is not only a breakthrough at the continental level but also will reflect on the wider global geopolitical landscape.

You are aware that the deal signed by Somaliland and Ethiopia has shaken geopolitical affairs with even some members of the Kenyan parliament openly discussing it. What are your thoughts on this?

A: I have specifically seen Kenyan MP Farah Maalim talk about this deal on multiple occasions, where he has openly incited violence against both Somaliland and Ethiopia because of the signed MOU. While on a recent visit to Garoowe, Farah Maalim explicitly stated that he could mobilize 500,000 Kenyan Somali youth to fight against Somaliland and Ethiopia to support Somalia. First and foremost, it is entirely unacceptable to see a parliamentarian use such inflammatory language when discussing the signed Somaliland-Ethiopia agreement. This type of rhetoric only encourages insurgency, extremist ideology, and acts of terrorism in an already vulnerable region. As a Kenyan MP, an individual like Maalim needs to refrain from meddling in and being so overly involved in the affairs pertaining to other countries.

Somalia’s President in the African Union Submit, and Somalia’s Representative to the UN both concurrently stated that Ethiopia is making annexation of part of Somalia which meant the Somaliland – Ethiopia deal what is your reaction to this provocative allegation?

A: First of all, Somali leaders are misguiding the international community and regional actors, and in this case, they need to understand that signing agreements and annexation have divergent interpretations in international law. Somaliland- and Ethiopia have equally agreed to enter a bilateral agreement which is mutually beneficial to both countries. Regarding the phenomenon of annexation, it only happens in the matter of forceful, and military occupation, did you ever hear that Ethiopian troops invaded Somaliland, the answer is no, this is unfounded propaganda that Somalia leaders designed to mislead the international community and regional actors.

Some members of the international community raised their feelings over the deal, arguing that Al-Shabab terrorists will further exploit and jeopardize regional peace and stability

A: This is an unbalanced political view, and it is an excuse to undermine the partnership framework, and maritime cooperation between Somaliland and Ethiopia. On the other hand, both Somaliland and Ethiopia have had sufficient experience fighting against terrorism over the past decades. The two countries played very prominent roles the regional stabilization, peace, and security. So, this deal will not jeopardize the fight against terrorist groups but will reflect on much more security enhancement, greater cooperation of all parties, and preventing the terrorist entities not to spreading over the region and beyond.

Could you provide a brief overview of the history of Somaliland?

A: The Republic of Somaliland was initially a product of the European Partition of Africa in 1884. Somaliland became a British Protectorate, known as British Somaliland, following subsequent agreements between Somali elders and the British Empire of that time. After close to 80 years under British indirect rule, Somaliland gained independence on 26 June 1960 and became the first East African country to officially become independent from a colonial power. However, following the wave of pan-Africanist, anti-colonial movement of the mid-1900s, Somaliland decided to voluntarily join into a union with the UN trusteeship and former Italian colony of Somalia on 1 July 1960, to form the Somali Republic. It is important to note that this merger was never legally ratified and ultimately failed. Somaliland reinstated its sovereignty and political independence in 1991. In the national referendum held in 2001, 98% of the Somaliland people overwhelmingly affirmed this decision to regain their national sovereignty and political independence. As a result, Somaliland’s constitutional democracy was born and since 2002, subsequent peaceful, free, fair, and transparent elections have been successfully held in the country.

How can the statehood of Somaliland be defined on its modern state roots?

A: The context of the African state formation concurrently took place following the European scramble for Africa. This marked the beginning of Africa’s modern statehood trajectory which also played an instrumental role in allowing colonial powers to manipulate political and territorial affairs in the African continent. In this context, the Somali partition in the Horn of Africa was indeed a part of the divisions experienced in East Africa. Consequently, the British Protectorate of Somaliland was founded between 1884 and 1886 where the British colony entered treaties with clans that lived in Somaliland. The Republic of Somaliland today is based on the 1960 territories and borders of British Somaliland. This is the case for the majority of recognized African states today. The African Union’s 1964 Cairo Declaration mandated that African states uphold and respect the borders established upon their achievement of national independence from colonial empires. So, the modern statehood of the Republic of Somaliland today is deeply rooted in its historical origins.

In the case of Somaliland, were there additional agreements or border demarcations made during the colonial era?

A: Yes, there are subsequent international treaties that the British Empire of the colonial period entered with other countries while it was governing the then British Protectorate of Somaliland. Because of this, Somaliland’s borders are delineated and defined by the Anglo-French Treaty of 1888; the Anglo-Italian Protocol of 1894, and the Anglo-Ethiopian Treaty of 1897. Then the Republic of Somaliland gained independence from Britain on 26 June 1960 and then re-instated its sovereignty in 1991, after the union under the now-dissolved Somali Republic failed. Somaliland’s borders and territory today are determined by the border demarcations established over a century ago.

Can you please elaborate on the significance of Somaliland within Africa and globally?

A: The Republic of Somaliland is situated in the Horn of Africa and is bounded by the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. Due to its proximity to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, which is a passageway that is crucial to global shipping and trade, Somaliland is a corridor for both regional and international transportation of goods. Because Somaliland has enjoyed over 30 years of peace and security, the country is not only a major contributor to regional stability but plays a vital role in regional economic integration and free trade. Somaliland’s Berbera Port is one of the largest and most strategic ports in Africa and the sub-Saharan region, a gateway to many African countries. As one of the only countries with a functioning democratic system in the Horn of Africa, the Somaliland people have successively elected their leaders and representatives through elections based on the principle of “one person, one vote”. The Republic of Somaliland is a beautiful country with a rich history, culture, heritage, and the Geo-strategic potential to continue positively serving the Horn of Africa region and the broader world.

Somaliland: Environment Ministry holds Workshop on Capacity Building on Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies

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By Goth Mohamed Goth

A Workshop on Capacity Building on Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies in Somaliland, the workshop was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change with Collaboration UNDP which supported GCF.

Climate change is one of the most impactful environmental issues in Somaliland, resulting in increasingly severe and prolonged periods of drought as well as flooding.  This has resulted in widespread water scarcity, food insecurity, environmental degradation, and displacement for thousands of people.

This workshop aims to build the capacities of representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and other key line ministries, as well as from non-government and civil society organizations, academia, and the private sector to better understand the complexities of climate change and effective strategies for adaptation to their impacts.

Somaliland partners RiceAfrica

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In a bid to boost agriculture and food production towards food security in Africa, the Republic Government of Somaliland has reached a partnership agreement with RiceAfrica.

According to a statement signed by RiceAfrica on Friday and made available to the Saturday Tribune, this milestone was reached during a courtesy call by the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of RiceAfrica, Ibrahim Maigari Ahmadu, who paid a courtesy visit to the Vice President of the Republic of Somaliland, His Excellency, Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail, at the Presidential Palace in Hargeisa on Wednesday.

‘Is a major milestone achieved towards the adoption of a tech-driven solution to food insecurity in Somaliland and indeed Africa?” the statement said.

The Somaliland Vice President, Abdirahman Abdillahi Ismail, said, “The government of Somaliland is assuring you and all investors interested in our country of support and an enabling environment. Somaliland is safe and peaceful for business.”

The Vice President assured the visiting CEO of the government’s support and readiness to provide an enabling environment for businesses operating in the country.

In his remarks, the visiting CEO of RiceAfrica, Ibrahim Maigari, expressed gratitude to the government and people of Somaliland for the hospitality and also presented to the VP how RiceAfrica is poised to transform smallholder farming communities in Africa through technology.

The visit by RiceAfrika to Somaliland is facilitated by its partner, Bilow Capital, a venture capital fund and venture studio based in Hargeisa, Somaliland, whose strategic objectives are to attract innovative and impact-driven companies to invest in Somaliland.

RiceAfrika is a tech-driven agriculture optimisation service provider with operations in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Rwanda and a strategic expansion plan across the African continent.

The leading African IT-driven organisation uses its award-winning FarmEASY operating system to improve the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa and improve food sufficiency and security.

Somaliland Seeks to Revolutionize Civic Education, Draws Inspiration from Ghana’s Model

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Somaliland delegation on their quest to absorb and replicate Ghana’s success in civic education. Explore the key lessons learned and the vision for a more informed and engaged democratic society.

Imagine a world where every citizen not only understands their rights and responsibilities but also actively participates in the democratic process. This vision drives a significant delegation from Somaliland, halfway across the continent, to the vibrant streets of Accra, Ghana.

Their mission? To absorb and replicate Ghana’s triumph in civic education, a cornerstone for sustaining democracy. Led by figures such as Mr. Abdirisak Yusuf Jama and Mr. Mohamed Lali Cuman, this journey is more than an educational tour; it’s a quest for democratic empowerment.

The heart of their exploration beats within the walls of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) in Ghana. Under the guidance of Ms. Kathleen Addy, the Chairperson of NCCE, the delegation delved into the essence of civic education.

Ghana’s success story in fostering an informed citizenry is not just inspiring but a beacon for nations like Somaliland, yearning to cultivate a similar culture of informed participation. Ms. Addy’s assurance of support to the Somaliland delegation marks the beginning of a hopeful journey towards building a robust civic education system back home.

Blueprints for a Democratic Future

The delegation’s itinerary extended beyond the NCCE. Meetings with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NaCCA) and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs underscored the holistic approach required to embed civic education deeply into the fabric of society.

The advice was clear and consistent: securing technical assistance and governmental support is paramount. This underscores a crucial lesson for Somaliland; the sustainability of civic education hinges not just on curricula but on a wider ecosystem of support and commitment.

Maritime Security Conference held in Hargeisa

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By M.A. Egge

A meeting jointly organized by the Maritime Security Liaison Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somaliland and EUCAP was held in Hargeisa on Wednesday.

The purpose of the meeting was the bolstering of major responsibility in securing the security of the high seas of Somaliland and its coasts.

It meeting was attended by all the stakeholders of maritime affairs including the line ministries, the presidential adviser on the maritime affairs, institutions, the senior security officials of the various arms of the forces and the universities that provide knowledge of maritime sciences.

The Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Mr. Ahmed Abokor Mohamed, officially opened the meeting by emphasizing its importance and underlined the importance of having a discussion about the situation the Red Sea given the latest volatility that has arisen in the area.

Abib Ahmed Hirsi, the Deputy Director of the Office of Maritime Security and the head of EUCAP in Somaliland, Mr. Poul Severinssen, gave a multifaceted speech related to how to work concertedly on maritime security.

Somaliland and Somali state of Ethiopia to collaborate on Sports

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The government of Somaliland and that of the provincial Somali region of Ethiopia have signed an agreement on the integration of youth and sports on both sides.

This agreement was jointly signed by the minister of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Hon. Abdirisaaq Musa Farah and the head of the office of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of the Somali Region, Mr. Mohamed Mahdi Adan.

The agreement signed by the two officials was attended by trainer Jama Adan (Kara’in University) and other officials from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Hon. Abdirisaaq Muse Farah and a delegation accompanying him have been on business in Jigjiga, the capital of the Somali region of Ethiopia.

The agreement between the Somaliland sports authorities and the Somali regional government will contribute greatly to the development of young people.

Somaliland and Taiwan Collaborate Marine Sectors

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Hon. Minister, Rabi Mohamed of the Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Development of the Republic of Somaliland is on an official visit to Taiwan. He met with Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Ocean Affairs, Mei Hung Chou.

The meeting attended Somaliland’s Taiwan envoy Hon Mohamed Haji was productive as it signals a step forward in developing robust collaboration on marine and ocean issues between Somaliland and Taiwan.

Minister Rabi’s visit demonstrates a shared understanding of the necessity of development and a shared commitment to utilizing coastal resources for economic advancement and environmental conservation.

The robust discussions at the meeting are intended to pave the way for collaboration between Somaliland and Taiwan in marine sectors such as fisheries management, marine preservation, and maritime safety.

Both sides showed an interest in exploring potential for support, knowledge sharing, and collaborative initiatives targeted at maximizing the socio-economic benefits of marine resources while maintaining their long-term viability.

The meeting between Minister Rabi Mohamed and Deputy Minister Mei Hung Chou signifies the strong partnership and bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Somaliland President pledges implementation of the bilateral MoU with Ethiopia

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By M.A. Egge

The President of the Republic of Somaliland H.E. Musa Bihi Abdi, has emphasized that the agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia will be enforced.

He also spoke about the slaying of the ICAO official in Mogadishu who happens to be a Somalilander, and the raging debate over Somaliland airspace management.

The Head of State made the statement in a speech that touched on various aspects as he addressed a UK Somaliland diaspora soccer team that paid him a courtesy call at the Presidency on Wednesday.

The President spoke clearly about the agreement between the Republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia stating that he is seeing to it that it is that the sad MoU has to be implemented since it is based on the best interests of both nations and has been well thought of.

He said, “It is the first time that we have by our side a great African nation that has boldly come out to support our aspirations and acknowledging our sovereignty”.

He underscored that when it comes to international relations as far as cooperation is concerned, each and every nation as an entity charts its own future as per the needs and interests of its aspirations.

In this context, the president noted that what the country lusts for is what it achieved, as a defacto state, which justifiably need a dejure status with the great African nation opening the doors hence the expected reciprocal move to lease the sea port.

He noted that with such chance beckoning it was imperative that the nation of Somaliland move ahead with the execution of the aspects of the MoU for it to be implemented and the nation be truly independently free at last.

He reminded the audience that the gestures of reciprocity are the international norms and tenets hence no country dishes out charities anyhow.

He said that it was in such connection that he has boldly taken to the move and is seeing to it that it goes on unhindered and is implemented.

The president spoke about the reaction of the leader of Somalia to the agreement, and said that he (Hassan) cannot hold sway the implementation of the agreement whatsoever.

He said, “the vitriolic statements that has come out of the Italian controlled protectorate in Mogadishu has made it vividly plain and clear the uncalled for animosity that they always haboured about Somaliland”.

He said that the perpetual claim that Somalia has repeated ‘rule’ Somaliland has always been naïve and untenable propaganda that deserves the contempt it exudes.

He pointed out, “Since I signed the MoU with Ethiopia Hassan Sheikh (Somalia president) has at least spoken 31 times at different forums while spewing derogatory words towards the entity and nationhood of Somaliland and I bluntly told him that his desire to be party to the MoU as a signatory was not binding since it did not concern them at all for we were two different nations and entities”.

He reminded the youthful audience of the sufferings the people of Somaliland endured under the regime of the infamous union with the south who perpetrated genocide against the nation.

The animosity emanating from Somalia now is not only a reminiscent of the past horrors but, can be seen, as continuation of the same.

As concerns the brutal killing of ICAO official Abdinasir Musa Dahable from Somaliland in Mogadishu, the president blamed President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud personally for the horrible slaying of the victim.

He charged, “Hassan, the murder of the man from Somaliland in Mogadishu is your responsibility, we do not accept the fact that it was perpetrated by young boys nor we accept the arresting of his fellow young compatriots as suspects; you cannot be the apprehender, judge, jury and the executioner all in one for something we hold you personally as your legacy”.

The president wondered why the Somalia leadership fraternity intertwines Somaliland sovereignty with the exacerbation of al Shabaab movement.

He called on the International Community not to be hoodwinked by the lies, and if anything, he pointed out that the international recognition of Somaliland, if anything, would bolster the security of the region.

The president was convictional that the country of Somaliland will not be swayed but will manage its airspace as justified just as it will pursue its aspirations and that of the people of the nation.

Ethiopia expresses ‘disappointment’ over Somalia’s ‘unjustified accusations’ at UN meeting

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The Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the United Nations issued a statement yesterday saying that it is “disappointed” by the “unjustified accusations” made by Somalia during a UN Security Council briefing on 19 February, 2024.

In the statement, Ethiopia expressed strong objection to comments made by Somalia’s UN representative during the briefing, which it described as “outright false information” and a “continuation of yet another unjustifiable accusation.”

It declined to directly counter the claims out of “respect for the ties of fraternity between the peoples of Ethiopia and Somalia.”

However, the statement firmly defended Ethiopia’s recent port access agreement with Somaliland, stating it is “neither unprecedented nor contrary to international practices.” It positioned the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland as a “win-win partnership that will secure Ethiopia a sea outlet,” with no intention of harming any other country’s interests.

The statement also highlighted Ethiopia’s “enormous sacrifices and contributions to the peace and security of Somalia,” including thousands of lives lost helping fight Al-Shabaab.

Ethiopia underscored that it remains ready for dialogue with Somalia to maintain cooperative ties vital to regional security. As “eternal neighbors,” both countries should focus on partnership moving forward rather than damaging accusations, the statement stated.

On 19 February, 2024, Catriona Laing, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), told members of the Security Council that the lack of “significant progress” after the AU summit to defuse tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia was “disappointing.”

Somaliland: The President and the 3rd President in an esteemed courteous meeting

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The President of the Republic of Somaliland H.E. Musa Bihi Abdi, received on Monday at the Presidential Palace the third President of Somaliland, H.E. Dahir Rayale Kaahin.

In the courteous meeting, the two leaders took time to parley on the general affairs and exchanged suggestions and ideas on how to work together for the development and unity of the nation of the Republic of Somaliland.

The President was at the meeting flanked by his deputy H.E. Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail (Saili’i), Minister of Interior Hon. Mohamed Kahin Ahmed, Minister of Water Management, Hon. Suleiman Yusuf Ali Koore, Hon. Mohamud Hassan Saad Saajin of Trade and Tourism. , Livestock and rural development minister Hon. Syed Sulub Mohamed, Assemlies coordination and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Abdinasir Muhammad Hassan Buuni, Employment, Social and Family Affairs, Hon. Eng Ali Omar Mohamed (Ali Hoor-Hoor), Mining and Energy, Hon. Abdilahi Farah Abdi, Education and Science, Hon. Dr Ahmed Aden Buhane and the Ambassador of the Republic of Somaliland to the United States and Canada (Canada) Amb. Bashir Sheikh Omar Good.

Upon his arrival when he returned to the country over the week the former President was received by the ministers of Interior, livestock, trade and deputy minister of Information at Egal International Airport.

He jetted in from France where he has been residing for the last ten years, at the Hargeisa airport.

President Dahir Rayale Kaahin had then thanked the ministers who welcomed him and indicated that they would hold discussions during his stay in the country.

He was accompanied by his wife Hudda Barkhad Aden.

He said then, “As a former president of the country, I appreciate and thank you for the reception you have accorded me. Once we rest we shall parley in discussions”.