HARGEISA (Somalilandpress) — A high-level British and French diplomatic officials have arrived in Hargeisa for consultations over the holding of forthcoming general elections in the country and to strengthen ties, Somalilandpress has learned on Friday.
The British delegation was led by Mr. John Marshall, deputy ambassador at the UK embassy in Addis Ababa, held private discussions with the Speaker of lower house of parliament, Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed ‘Irro’, as well as the chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC) and members from the three political parties.
Mr. Marshall, discussed a range of issues including security, forthcoming elections in Somaliland, and the role Somaliland’s 82-seat House of Representatives could play in the democratization process.
The British visit was preceded by a four-member delegation from the French embassy in Djibouti and was led by Mr. Dominique Decherf, French Ambassador to Djibouti and Mr. Thierry Choinier, the first secretary of the French Embassy in Djibouti. The other two members, Mr. Banos Robles Bernard and Mr. Jacques Sabrot were from the French Ministry of education and the Ministry of Culture respectively.
The French delegation has met with the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdirahman Osman Adan. The two sides discussed ways of working towards strengthening ties between Somaliland and France in the fields of security, development, education and culture. They have also discussed the forthcoming elections and the French delegation plans to meet with all political parties as well as the NEC. The delegation said they were also in the country for a fact-finding mission and were accompanied by Somaliland Representative to France, Mr. Ali Ismael Hassan.
Somalilandpress has learned that, the French want Somaliland’s high-tertiary institutions to include French in their education curriculum as well as presenting French culture and identity through the support of their Maisons de Culture (culture centres), which Mr. Jacques Sabrot is leading. The French diplomats also insisted that they would help Somaliland build strong education capacity and infrastructure.
In recent times, Somaliland has been developing strong ties with France, it was three weeks ago when Somaliland Liaison office in Paris was invited to the all exclusive French-speaking, the International Organisation of La Francophonie for it’s 40th anniversary. In late 2009, Somaliland business communities as well as members of the government were also invited to Djibouti to meet with French companies.
The British and French delegation came just days after the NEC has announced the general election will be held in June and that all three parties have signed the agreed date.
Photo: British diplomats with Speaker of House of Representatives, Mr Irro.
Somalilandpress, 17 April 2010