By Samuel Getachew
The newly-elected president of Somaliland led a high-level delegation to Addis Ababa for two days on Tuesday looking to expand the bilateral relationship between Ethiopia and Somaliland.
President Muse Bihi Abdi held an audience with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and a slew of government officials highlighting the importance of the relationship in areas of security, economic, trade engagement and educational cooperation.
“Ethiopia is working aggressively to dismantle Al-Shabaab from the surrounding regions since it’s our common enemy,” Prime Minister Hailemariam stated. “We have already started developing infrastructure in the corridor to facilitate the growing import-export trade of Ethiopia.”
He added it would strengthen the nations move for a closer economic cooperation.
Despite a working government and a strong economy, the autonomous region of Somaliland continues to have difficulties in its recognition attempt to be known as a sovereign nation.
“Somaliland is not an emerging nation, we are an old country. We just celebrated our 100th anniversary,” Saad Ali Shire (PhD), the Foreign Minister of Somaliland told The Reporter. “We are a peaceful, stable and democratic country in all of Africa. We just concluded a free and fair election. We deserve to be recognized as a state.”
Despite some of the noted successes of Somaliland, it faces continuous challenges on security mostly from Al-Shabaab and others. It also has a vulnerable healthcare and education system.
With a partnership with foreign investors, specifically from the United Arab Emirates, it inaugurated the Berbera Port at a cost of USD 442 million. Ethiopia obtained a 19 percent share of the port in 2017. It was envisioned that the new port will be used as a regional trading hub. Ethiopia has also granted hundreds generous scholarships to Somaliland citizens at various public universities around the nation.
“The reason we are successful and Somalia is not, is because we have focused on not just the issues of governance, but on reconciliation,” the minister said.
On the December 2017 national election, President Bihi became the 5th president and the peaceful transfer of power was hailed as exemplary by observers. President Bihi’s first visit as president was to Djibouti, followed by Ethiopia.