Lasanod, Somalia, (African Confidential). Oblivious to the concerns of western countries and interested neighbours President Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland has now listened to envoys of Ethiopia and called off the all-out assault on the town of Las Anod which had earlier declared its desire to become a Federal Member State within the federation of Somalia (AC Vol 64 No 4) Hargeisa’s bloody own goal.
But fighting could break out again at any time since Muse Bihi has not softened his hard line against the would be breakaway, local sources say.
Muse Bihis violent reaction to Las Anod’s declaration saw his forces bombarding the town of 160 000 causing many deaths at least 150 000 internal refugees including neighbouring villages and massive destruction of the town’s infrastructure (AC Vol 64 No 3) LasAnod still under fire
On 27 February three senior Ethiopian military officers arrived in Hargeisa for talks with Muse Bihi before going to Garowe capital of neighbouring Puntland to meet Lasanod’s committee of 33 which had been appointed to speak for the town in negotiations as well as 13 leading figures of the Dhulbhante clan.
Muse Bihi is seen locally as the driver of the violence.
Pundits say Muse Bihi is blaming outsiders for the failure of his policy towards the Dhulbahante clan.
Muse Bihi has supported the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (PLP) in the past…..Blaming outsiders is helpful to Muse Bihi when countering the argument that he has damaged the Somaliand independence cause by inflicting disproportionate violence in Las And, his opponents say.
In Burco a stronghold of the Somaliland opponition Waddani party, about half way between Las Anod and Hargaisa, the Las Anod fighting is being viewed as evidence of the illegitimacy of Muse Rihi’s prendency. Waddani argues that Muse Bibi’s extension of his presidenry is illegitimate and wants a new election. Muse Bihi has acted to forestall any further split in Isaq unity. The effect however is likely to polarise farther the debate among the Isaq and weaken Muse Bihi’s position in Hargaisa.
Staying out as Ramadan approaches and with it the decline in political activity, the “outsiders” Muse Bihi is blaming for unrest in Somalliand _ especially Puntland and the federal government in Mogadishu _have little stomach for it.
Source: (African Confidential).