Senior international representatives to Somalia on Friday called on warring sides in the north of country to withdraw their forces from the disputed town of Saaxdheer and resolve differences through peaceful means.
In a joint statement issued in Mogadishu, the U.S. Special Representative for Somalia, James McAnulty, UN envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay and European Union Ambassador Michele Cervone d’Urso expressed concern over conflict in northern Somalia between forces of the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland and those of the newly-formed regional state of Khaatumo.
Residents in the southern regions of Somaliland elected Ali Khalif Galeyr, a Somali MP as the head of the newly-formed Khaatuom State of Somalia which includes Sool, Sanaag and Ayn regions in north of the country.
On Thursday as local Khaatumo authorities were preparing for the inauguration of the new president in the Saaxdheer town, forces from Somaliland attacked the venue and clashed with local militias protecting the ceremony attended by local and national political leaders including members of parliament.
“We call for the immediate withdrawal of forces from Saaxdheer, and the immediate release of all prisoners. We urge all parties to refrain from violence and make concerted efforts to de-escalate and resolve differences through peaceful means and dialogue,” said the joint UN, U.S. and EU statement.
Somaliland objects to the formation of the regional state in areas it claims as part of its territory. The region has been seeking to cede from the rest of Somalia since 1991.
Talks between Somali leaders and local officials have been continuing under the mediation of the Turkish government for the past two years.