President Muse Bihi of Somaliland is currently on a tour of the United States of America, and delivered a keynote address in Washington DC. This is the leader’s first official visit to America.
Bihi, who represents a territory that declared independence from Somalia 30 years ago but is not internationally recognised as such, has sparked speculation about which US government officials he will meet.
The president was warmly received by US officials, according to Bashir Goth, the head of the Somaliland mission in the US. During his visit in the US, Bihi is expected to meet with officials from the Biden administration, members of Congress, and members of civil society.
“Talks will include ways of strengthening relations between the two countries (US and Somaliland),” said Goth via a statement.
Somaliland’s initial name was British Somaliland. The country combined with Italian Somaliland to form the Somali Republic after independence in 1960. However, the region declared independence from Somalia in 1991 when the influence of Siad Barre, former president and military general, waned in the early 1990s.
“Dialogue has failed to achieve its objectives,” Bihi said, as reported by ABC News, following his keynote address on Monday, 14 March. This address comes as the president fights for the independence of Somaliland to be acknowledged, despite failed negotiations and talks with Somalia.
Despite this, Somaliland runs like its own state, as it has a central bank and currency, police force, army and has hosted its own elections since 1991. Many embassies in Mogadishu, Somalia also have consulates in the Somaliland city of Hargeisa.
The matter of recognised independence remains to be be resolved, however, as the African Union made the decision to no longer engage on it, forcing Somalia and Somaliland to discuss the matter without mediation.
Goth reports that Bihi and his delegation were allowed into the US using Somaliland passports, which have limited recognition. This has meant that that Somaliland travellers often make use of Somalian passports.