US applauds Somaliland-Taiwan ties

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The US has applauded Taiwan for establishing diplomatic ties with the self-declared republic of Somaliland.

A tweet from the US National Security Council described Taiwan as a great partner.

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Both China and the Somali government in Mogadishu have condemned the move which was announced at the beginning of the month.

China has in recent years been urging African nations to cut ties with Taiwan. Only Eswatini - the country formerly known as Swaziland - has retained full ties.

After years of lingering tensions, the Somali government has recently tried to improve its relationship with Somaliland which declared independence in 1991 but has not been recognised by the international community.

Somalia v Somaliland: Leaders meet over long feud

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed of Somalia (L) and the head of Somaliland’s administration, Muse Bihi Abdi (R)
The Somali president (L) and his Somaliland rival (R) seen at their rare meeting in Djibouti

The leaders of Somalia and the self-declared republic of Somaliland are holding rare talks in an effort to end a long-standing feud.

President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed of Somalia and Somaliland’s leader Muse Bihi Abdi are meeting in neighbouring Djibouti.

The main point of contention is Somaliland’s political status following its decision to declare independence in 1991.

This was rejected by the government in Mogadishu and Somaliland has not been internationally recognised.

Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh and the Ethiopian Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Abiy Ahmed are playing a mediation role at the meeting.

Mr Guelleh tweeted that the talks were a "perfect illustration" of regional efforts to resolve differences through dialogue.

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In recent years rival Gulf states have taken sides, which has raised tensions.

Mr Abiy was awarded to the Nobel prize last year for making peace in 2018 with Ethiopia's bitter foe Eritrea - ending a 20-year military stalemate following their 1998-2000 border war.

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Somaliland frees prominent journalist

Abdifitah Ibrahim

BBC, Somali Service

Abdimalik Muse Oldon
Facebook / Abdimalik Muse Oldon

The self-declared republic of Somaliland has freed controversial Somali journalist Abdimalik Muse Oldon following a presidential amnesty.

Mr Oldon had been behind bars for more than 13 months. He was found guilty of defamation and spreading false news by a court in Hargeisa in July 2019 and sentenced to three and half years in prison.

He has repeatedly denied all the charges and his lawyers called the judgement an injustice.

Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi on Saturday ordered for his release following pressure from opposition leaders and human rights groups.

This was the second time Mr Oldon was released through a presidential pardon.

He told the BBC that he was released after representatives of political parties spoke to Somaliland's president.

He said he was treated well while in prison but had become ill.

Since Somalia's civil war and the collapse of government in 1991, Somaliland has been a self-declared independent state and has its own government. However, it is not officially recognised by the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) or any country.

'I used to guard the ministry, now I'm the minister'

Issa Ahmed

BBC News Somali

Suleiman Yusuf Koore
Suleiman Yusuf Koore/Facebook
Suleiman Yusuf Koore became Somaliland's information minister in December

It's not often you hear of a security guard rising through the ranks to become a government minister, but Suleiman Yusuf Koore did just that.

He started out in 1984 as a watchman at Radio Hargeisa, the state broadcaster of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, which is housed within the complex of the ministry of information.

Now as the minister of information and communication, Mr Koore is the most senior person in the building.

"Back in the day I wasn’t allowed to enter the office that I occupy now, because of my status as a watchman," he told the BBC Somali service.

At the time he lived with his family on the outskirts of Hargeisa and earned $12 (£9) a month.

By contrast, ministers in Somaliland today earn $2,000 each month plus up to $705 in allowances.

Mr Koore has been in politics for the last 25 years and has held several portfolios as a minister - but in December he started his first stint at the information ministry, which he regards as his true home.

"It makes great sense to me that I became a minister at the ministry I worked at during my youthful days as it has a special meaning to my life," he told BBC.

Abiy's charm offensive on Somaliland 'hits a snag'

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi "Farmajo" Mohamed
Mr Abiy had requested to visit Somaliland with Mr Mohamed

Somaliland's president has turned down a request by Somalia's president to visit the breakaway state along with Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the East African newspaper reports.

The proposed visit followed mediation efforts by Mr Abiy to thaw relations between Somalia and Somaliland, the newspaper reports.

Since Somalia's civil war and the collapse of government in 1991, Somaliland has been a self-declared independent state and has its own government.

However, it is not officially recognised by the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) or any country.

Mr Abiy earlier this month hosted a meeting between Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed "Farmajo" and Somaliland's Muse Bihi Abdi in his office after the AU summit in Addis Ababa.

This resulted in President Mohamed apologising to Somaliland for atrocities committed in the 1980s.

Mr Abdi accepted the apology, but was quoted as telling local parliamentarians that the request for a visit was “just ridiculous”.

Liban Yousuf Osman, Somaliland's deputy foreign minister, was quoted as saying: "Farmajo's visit to The Republic of Somaliland is absolutely a day dream and mission impossible."

A Somali's quest to find love in the 'city of men'

Bidhaan Dahir

BBC Somali service

Mohamed Nim’an Jibriil
Mohamed Nim’an Jibriil chats to women via social media

As the world celebrates Valentine's Day, one Somali man has spoken about how hard it is to find love in his adopted home of Doha, the Qatari capital nicknamed the "city of men".

Mohamed Nim’an Jibriil told BBC Somali that looking for a woman to marry in Doha had become a hard task and he had resorted to online dating.

Doha's "city of men" nickname comes from its gender imbalance - most residents are male migrant workers.

Mr Jibriil chats up women who live in his home, the self-declared republic of Somaliland, through social media.

"Qatar is a big city… There are a lot of young Somali men but a very small number of Somali women. Most young men go back home [to Somaliland] and get married there. Because there are a lot of young men here we don’t have a lot of weddings," he says.

Mr Jibriil, who spends his free time online or at the gym, says:

Loneliness is not easy. In life it’s good to have partner. Having that partner brings you happiness and a good life… I hope I will find somebody to build her future with me."

Most Qataris marry people from their own community and Mr Jibriil too prefers to look for a wife from his Somali community.

"I don’t have communications with Somali women in the diaspora - the UK and America - I’m mainly just in contact with women back home [in Somaliland]," he says.

Are Somaliland cave paintings in danger of being lost for good?

A scholar says they’re being degraded by tourism and changing environment
The Laas Geel caves and their artistic contents are located in the self-declared republic of Somaliland. The rocks display prehistoric paintings of humans and animals, mostly dogs, cows and giraffes. But Dr Jama Musse Jama, a scholar from Somaliland, has been raising the alarm over the challenges the caves are facing because of uncontrolled tourism and environmental degradation. He spoke to BBC Newsday.

(Photo: Painting of a cow. Credit: Dr Jama Musse Jama)

Somali outrage over Australia camel slaughter

Bidhaan Dahir

BBC Somali service

Mustafe Cali Deeq with camels
Bidhaan Dahir
Somali camel trader Mustafe Cali Deeq says only human beings are more precious than camels

Outraged Somalis are urging Australians to stop culling camels, and to instead send the animals to the Horn of Africa so that they can look after them.

Snipers have been shooting camels in South Australia from the air since Wednesday following concerns that extreme heat and drought were forcing the animals to encroach on human settlements in search of water. Thousands are expected to be killed.

Somalis have a deep love for camels, which they call "geel". They measure wealth and status by the number of camels that people own, not the amount of cash they have.

They also believe that after the British colonised what is now the self-declared republic of Somaliland in the 19th Century, they seized herds of camels and sent them to Australia, which was also a British colony at the time.

Others say that camels were first taken to Australia by British settlers from India, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Nevertheless, the chairman of the Somaliland Camel Herders Association, Mustafe Cali Deeq, said the animals were "very precious" to Somalis and "second" only to human beings.

He said Australia should spare the lives of the camels by sending them to where they "originally" came from.

While others said on Twitter that they could be accommodated in the whole of Mena, an acronym for the Middle East and Africa.

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