The president of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, leading a high level delegation arrived in Djibouti Saturday, Jan. 6 for a trip likely to create a new diplomatic row with Somalia. This is the the president’s first trip abroad since he took office last month.
President Bihi received the red carpet treatment with the honor guard when he got off the plane. Djiboutian president Ismail Omer Geeleh received President Bihi at the airport’s VIP terminal, which is designated for heads of states and governments.
The move delighted Somalilanders as the unprecedented reception accorded to the Somalilander president by the Djiboutian president signaled new levels of diplomatic relationship between two countries since president.
The government of Djibouti used to be seen as a close ally of Somalia and as opposed to Somaliland’s independence. The attitude of Djibouti’s government appears to have changed after Somaliland’s latest peaceful presidential election and transfer of power.
Following Bihi’s inauguration, Djibouti was the first state in the region to send an official invitation to Somaliland’s newly elected president.
Willing to enhance the existing bilateral cooperation with Somaliland, Djibouti have opened its consular office in Hargeisa in 2016, while Somaliland’s diplomatic office was opened in Djibouti after the former Somaliland president Ahmed Silanyo and Djibouti’s President Geeleh agreed to exchange diplomatic offices.
According to a source close to the president’s visit in Djibouti, the two leaders will exchange views on fostering new cooperation in trade, investment, border security, diplomacy and economic development. In the meantime, President Bihi will also be intensifying Somaliland’s 27-year old quest for own sovereignty, starting with the nearest neighbor like Djibouti and Ethiopia.
The president’s delegation consisted members of his cabinet including foreign Minister, Dr. Saed Ali Shire, Education minister, Prof. Yassin Mohamoud Hiir ‘Faraton’, Minister for Justice, Abdiqani Mohamoud Atteye and Somaliland Police Commissioner, Major General, Abdullahi Fadal Iman, Navy Commander, Brigadier General, Abdi Hersi Duale and two members of the presidency press office.
The government of Somalia has been enjoying a warm relation with Djibouti so far. But the images of Somaliland president honored as a head of state may lead to a frosty relation between Djibouti and Somalia.
Somaliland is a defacto independence since its secession from Somali following the fall of the late president Ziyad Barre in 1991, yet have not received international recognition.