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Somaliland opposition calls for peace in Laascaanood city amid escalating violence

Somaliland opposition calls for peace in Laascaanood city amid escalating violence
Somaliland opposition calls for peace in Laascaanood city amid escalating violence

Here is the translation of the article you provided me with: The Somaliland opposition has recently spoken out about the ongoing war in Laascaanood city in Sool region, claiming that they have caused a ceasefire between the two sides.

The leader of the UCID party, Eng. Faysal Ali Warabe, condemned the escalating violence in Laascaanood and accused Somaliland President Muse Bihi and SSC forces stationed in Laascaanood of being responsible.

Faisal said that he prays to God that the innocent people who have been displaced from their homes today will find peace and that those who are causing chaos without any reason will be punished by God.

“We need to stop the violence and talk, send troops to where there is conflict, and I urge other military forces to join us,” he said.

The leader of the opposition UCID party has called on SSC’s top leader Garaad Jama Garaad Ismail to join Somaliland and ask the government to stop any further violence in Laascaanood.”

A Complex and Ongoing Crisis in Somaliland

Laascaanood has been at the center of a territorial dispute between Somaliland and Puntland for decades. Both Somaliland and Puntland claim Laascaanood as part of their territory, based on historical and clan affiliations.

The conflict over Laascaanood has escalated since December 2022, when a local opposition politician was assassinated by unknown gunmen, sparking anti-government protests across the city. The protesters accused Somaliland’s security forces of indiscriminate violence and human rights violations. They also demanded more autonomy and representation for the Dhulbahante clan, which is the dominant clan in Laascaanood and its surrounding regions of Sool, Sanaag and Buuhoodle (collectively known as SSC).

On February 6, 2023, a group of Dhulbahante elders announced their intention to form a new federal state within Somalia, named SSC-Khaatumo, and declared their allegiance to the Somali federal government. They also called for an end to Somaliland’s occupation of Laascaanood and urged dialogue and reconciliation among all parties. However, Somaliland’s authorities rejected their declaration and launched a military offensive to regain control of the city. Since then, heavy fighting has erupted between Somaliland’s troops and local militia loyal to SSC-Khaatumo.

The conflict has resulted in hundreds of casualties and thousands of displaced civilians. According to the United Nations, more than 185,000 people have been uprooted from their homes due to the clashes, with many seeking shelter under trees or inside schools. Women and children account for an estimated 89 percent of the displaced population. Humanitarian access has been hindered by insecurity and inadequate resources. Moreover, more than 60,000 people have fled to Ethiopia’s Somali region to escape the violence.

The international community has expressed concern over the situation in Laascaanood and called on all parties to adhere to a ceasefire that was announced by Somaliland on February 10 but violated by both sides shortly after. Six countries – Qatar, Somalia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) – issued a joint statement on March 1 urging de-escalation, dialogue and respect for human rights. They also offered their support for mediation efforts by regional actors such as Ethiopia.

The root causes of the conflict are complex and multifaceted. They include historical grievances over colonial boundaries; clan rivalries over land and resources; political competition over representation and power; ideological differences over statehood and sovereignty; external interference by regional powers; economic marginalization; environmental degradation; lack of social services; weak governance; insecurity; radicalization; etc.

The resolution of the conflict requires addressing these underlying issues through inclusive dialogue among all stakeholders at local.

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