Most Facebook users had gone up in arms condemning President Musa Bihi of the Republic of Somaliland going to the Somaliland-Ethiopia border town of Wajaale to meet President Mustafa Omar ‘Cagjar’ of Ethiopia’s Somali State.

Although most of the comments came from young Somalilanders, still it reflected a sentiment all of Somaliland shared across the generations.

President Mustafa Muhamad Omar ‘Cagjar’ of the Eastern Ethiopia Somali State made a very damaging, rash statement against Somaliland barely three weeks and in the presence, as reported, of the United States to Ethiopia.

President Cagjar said they were on the alert for saboteurs hatching terrorist plots against his state and on Ethiopia, in general, lurking in places such as Somaliland, Puntland and Jubbaland.

The comment, for one, lumped the Republic of Somaliland, together with Puntland and Jubbaland – two federal states of Somalia. Secondly, it totally wiped out excellent relations the two nations of Ethiopia and Somalia nurtured from uncertain beginning to full trust during the past 28 years. Pacts forged included security which ensured that Ethiopia went about its business assured of a tight vigilance on its eastern border with Somaliland manned by different branches of the Somaliland security agencies.

All of a sudden Mustafa came along a few months ago and started testing Somaliland patience by first sending his paramilitary police, the Liyuu police, to parts of Somaliland unbidden, then making barbed references to Somaliland linking it to ‘terrorists’. With the man, also, a new fervor for ‘Greater Somalia’ colors, songs, and other paraphernalia was born. Somalia flag colors, for instance, became the hottest selling commodity undeterred in Jigjiga, the capital of the Somali State.

Somaliland saw the new Presidents actions as a calculated provocation against Somaliland and its quest for restored independence following the failed union with Somalia in 1960.

Awakening to an announced trip of their President to Wajaale to meet an ‘unapologetic’ President Cagjar raised young Somalilanders’ hackles (See a sample below).

“Mustafa Cagjar apologized for what he said against Somaliland but through another official. He should have done it himself as the words came from his mouth, not from another’s,” Omer Said Eiggeh, another user said.

This incident which sees the president of the Somaliland nation traveling to a border town to meet the ‘Governor of Jigjiga’ so downgrades Somaliland. It attests to what some detractors had been saying about us not being able to meet counterparts as equal partners (only those beneath them),” Abdirashid Jeeni, a prolific user, and the former media manager of Waddani political party said.

“The President should have sent the Governor,” Mkamil Muse said. “I am afraid Djibouti will send its governor to meet you tomorrow. You do not eat the inedible because you are hungry,” he added. 

Abdinassir Ibrahim Ismail said, “Musa Bihi is right where Abiy Ahmed and Farmajo wanted him to be!”

It appears like none were interested in the outcome.

Of late, opponents of Musa’s leadership blamed him for setting lower standards than his predecessors when it came to actively seek court with leaders of other countries with whom the yet-to-be-recognized nation shared interests. They said he had many aces up his sleeve that he could have used to Somaliland’s advantage at this juncture of time but he knew not how. All of Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya could have been shouldering out each other at the threshold to his office if only sought the right guidance and played his deck of cards right.

Political observers had been saying he should have been sending out invitations to the President of the Oromo State, Lemmaa Magarsaa, and then, to Mustafa Cagjar, to meet them at his office in Hargeisa. They said Somaliland had interests far more important than meeting the eye which could have been discussed openly and on equal terms to help Somaliland meet its goals – political or otherwise.

None can fault such a logic.

Definitely, today’s step was in the wrong direction for Musa Bihi since all of those sampled above were either of his staunchest supporters or of a camp who gave him the benefit of the doubt until today.