As Washington urges timely presidential elections and pledges continued support towards drought relief
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – “The security and peaceful co-existence established in Somaliland has been termed as exemplary from a US point of view.
The commendations were extended by the US envoy to Somalia Ambassador Stephen Schwartz in Hargeisa where he is leading a strong delegation that includes the USAID Deputy Mission Director for Somalia Dr. Alex Dickie among others
Amb Schwartz who is making his maiden visit to Somaliland since assuming duties at the US embassy for Somalia based in Nairobi Kenya held discussions with various stakeholders that included government, political parties and National Election Commission.
During the various meetings the Ambassador Schwartz led delegation was very emphatic on the imperatives towards holding of timely presidential elections in Somaliland slated for 13th November 2017.
The first discussions held by the USA team was with the three national political parties of Ruling Kulmiye and the two opposition ones of UCID and Wadani as well as the national election commission.
While Amb Schwartz had his full team in tow, NEC was represented by its chairman Commissioners Abdiqadir Imaan while political leaders in attendance were Kulmiye party chair and presidential candidate Muse Behi Abdi, UCID leader and presidential flag bearer Eng Feisal Ali Warabe while Wadani was represented by its Foreign Affairs Secretary Mohamed Osman Fadal.
According to Geeska Afrika the US delegation meeting with Political parties and NEC had the presidential elections as main agenda more so as pertains its impact on the Somaliland democratization process.
Next the US diplomatic mission went to the Somaliland presidency where they parlayed with a government team led by VP Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail ‘Sayli’ who is acting for his on personal visit in the UAE boss President Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo.
The governent team led by VP Sayli included Foreign, Interior, Environment, Religious Affairs and information Ministers Namely Dr Saad Ali Shire, Yasin Faraton, Ms Shukri Bandare , Sheikh Khalil and Abdillahi Sahardiid respectively.
Details of discussions were divulged during at a post meeting presser held jointly by the Somaliland foreign minister and US Envoy to Somalia Ambassador Stephen Schwartz (watch video below)
Among issues revealed as having been touched upon include Security, Drought, Diplomatic relations as well as democratization process.
Though not officially announced the foreign ministry tweeted about a meeting between Amb Schwartz and Minister Dr Saad Ali Shire in which Somaliland Somalia dialogue was the main menu of deliberations.
While it has been almost two decades since the US dispatched a high level diplomatic mission to Somaliland, the Ambassador Schwartz team just like others from the international community dwelt more on the presidential elections more so the imperatives of timely conduct.
The presidential polls as well as parliamentary and local councils have been postponed on numerous occasions thence eliciting wrath of the international community partnering and donor to the Somaliland democratization process. The IC had accused the government of injuring the world acclaimed democratization of the country that had been touted as a model for emulation by many third world countries.
Postponement of the presidential elections from March 2016 to November 2017 as well as separation from those of parliamentary raised much ire within the IC with a stake in the Somaliland democratization process even to the extend of the U.K. excluding Somaliland from the London Conference on Somalia held at Lancaster House on 11 May 2017, co-chaired by the UK, the Federal Republic of Somalia, the United Nations and the African Union, and attended by 42 friends and partners of Somalia.
Other salient ramifications of the IC ire on the oft postponed polls include Non invitation of Somaliland to regional democracy forums, withheld development and elections funds among others .
On June 27, 2016, Stephen Michael Schwartz was sworn in as the thirteenth United States Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Somalia. Ambassador Schwartz is a member of the Senior Foreign Service with the rank of Counselor. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Schwartz served as the Director of the Office for Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Affairs (ANP) in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). He served as Deputy Director of EAP/ANP from 2008 to 2010.