By ABDULKADIR KHALIF
Somalilandsun – President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Siilaanyo of the Republic of Somaliland says he will not attend a conference on Somalia scheduled to take place in London, according to reports from Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.
The conference which aims to bring together all the disparate Somali players and factions will take place on May 7.
Reports indicate the president expressed his disinterest in the London talks when he recently visited the city to meet members of the Somalia diaspora.
Somaliland declared its “independence” from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, following the collapse of the Siad Barre regime in Mogadishu.
However, the independence of the breakaway state is not recognised by the international community.
President Siilaanyo reportedly had told British officials including Prime Minister David Cameron that the planned conference did not concern Somaliland.
“We met British officials in Ethiopia [during the African Union summit in January] and told them Somaliland was a separate entity from Somalia,” said President Siilaanyo.
“Although British Prime Minister David Cameron wanted otherwise, we repeated our preference not to participate in the conference,” he added.
Despite the rejection of the invitation by Britain, Somaliland officials have been holding talks with representatives from the Federal Government of Somalia.
The last such meeting took place on April 13 at the Turkish Foreign Ministry in Ankara where Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and Somaliland leader Siilaanyo reached what was described as a “common understanding”.
According to the final communiqu√©, the two Somali sides agreed on the need to consolidate cooperation in the security sector through sharing intelligence.
Related agreements included sharing training in the security sector so as to become more effective in the fight against terrorism, piracy, illegal fishing, dumping of toxic waste and other serious crimes.
The first conference on Somalia took place in London in February 2012, in which the Somaliland leader participated.