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The Ambassador’s Timely Visit

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The presence of the British Ambassador to Ethiopia, Mr. Bob Dewar, in Somaliland, just as the Security Council’s decision to send troops to Somalia was announced is a sign of great diplomatic skills on the part of both Somaliland and the British government. Obviously, many Somalilanders are concerned by the prospective injection of foreign troops into Somalia, particularly when the purpose of the troops is to help prop up the so-called government of Abdillahi Yusuf, a sworn enemy of Somaliland. The presence of the ambassador in Somaliland sends a signal to Somalilanders that Great Britain is aware of their concerns about any support for Abdillahi Yusuf, and to that extent, should help in reducing some of the Somalilanders’ anxiety. That is why we think the ambassador’s visit is good diplomacy on the part of both the British and Somaliland’s governments.

But as much as we appreciate the symbolism of the ambassador’s visit, we don’t think it is enough. It’s time for actions that improve the lives of ordinary Somalilanders and shows them that moderation and democracy will serve them better than fanaticism and despair. It does not make sense to Somalilanders that Britain is planning on increasing its aid to Yemen (a hotbed of terrorism and the ancestral home of Bin Laden) by 400 per cent (from £10m per year to £50m per year by 2011) while keeping its assistance to Somaliland at its current level.

We commend Somaliland’s government, and the foreign ministry in particular, for having the foresight to arrange for the ambassador’s visit. But again, we don’t think that is enough. It is incumbent that Somaliland’s government impresses upon the ambassador the urgency of the situation and Somaliland’s need for substantial assistance from Britain in order to weather the gathering internal and external storms.

Somaliland’s government should also reach out to the opposition and other stakeholders, and explain how it sees the changing situation in the Horn of Africa, the Security Council’s decision to send troops to Somalia, and what it is doing to protect Somaliland’s interests. If Somaliland’s government does not take the initiative and provide some guidance on these vital issues, people will start coming up with their own answers, and the government may not like those answers.

Source: Somaliland Times

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