Somaliland to extradite alleged OLF, ONLF operatives to Ethiopia

Somaliland is to extradite hundreds of Ethiopians, unofficial reports indicated.Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamud - aka Silanyo

Somaliland is a breakaway northern territory of Somalia. Somaliland declared independence almost two decades ago, it has not achieved international recognition. Though there had been a few unofficial reports of instance of extradition, in the past, Somaliland often resisted as it complicates clan relations. Especially, in case of ONLF, which consists the Ogaden clan of Somali people.

As reported in this blog in mid-September, Somaliland official claimed that: ‘After evaluating the status of the illegal immigrants, we realized that these people have no benefits for the country; on the contrary, they are a problem in terms of security,….For this reason, the government of Somaliland has given a month’s notice to all illegal immigrants to leave the country. Those who do not leave will face legal charges and be deported.’

The officials also said: ‘We recognize only 1,772 Ethiopian refugees out of 80,000 to 90,000 illegal immigrants in Somaliland. And the decision will affect those of every nationality living in Somaliland illegally.’

Noting that the decision will affect Ethiopian, to whom most of the illegal immigrants belong, this blog commented: ‘given the Somaliland’s government reliance on Ethiopia for diplomatic and security support, it is unlikely that the decision to deport would be taken without the knowledge, if not consent, of the latter’.

It seems now that, however, the large-scale deportation may not take place. Rather, it was a show staged to camouflage the extradition of a few hundred individuals.

Recent reports claim that Ethiopian officials formally requested, in early September, Somaliland President Mahamoud (aka Silanyo) for the extradition a long list of Ethiopians residing in his territory. Most of whom are suspected of involvements in the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The two organizations claim to be fighting to end ‘colonialism’ in the southern and eastern parts of Ethiopia, according to the mission statement posted on their officials websites. The Ethiopian government and IGAD, the Horn of Africa’s regional bloc, recently proscribed the two organizations as terrorists.

Subsequently, Somaliland’s police arrested some 250-350 Ethiopians, most, if not all, named in the list provided from Ethiopia. It is not clear if the Somaliland officials are done with the arrest and when they will deliver them to Ethiopian officials.

It is noteworthy that the Somaliland signed a tripartite agreement with Ethiopia and and China last august. The agreement was said to be on oil, gas, and logistics, concerning  the gas and oil pipelines to be built from eastern Ethiopia to the Somaliland port, Berbera. It is not clear how far the agreements, subsidiary documents, involve security matters, especially arrangements for extradition.

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