Clan elders in the disputed Las Anod region of Somalia want their area to be managed directly by the Federal Government of Somalia in Mogadishu, rejecting claims by both the self-declared republic of Somaliland and the authority of Puntland state.
During a sitting in Las Anod town — the capital of Sool region, some 1000km northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu — the elders from the local Dhulbahante clan, widely known as Isimada, proclaimed that the Sool, Sanaag and Cayn region, or the SSC, belong to Somalia under the federal government. The SSC have been disputed by Somaliland, whose independence is still unrecognised, and Puntland federal state of Somalia.
“These SSC territories will be administrated according to the provisions of Somalia’s constitution,” the elders’ declaration stated, adding that Khatumo State is the political arm of the SSC regions.
In addition, the declaration asked the Somaliland administration to remove all its forces from the SSC territories.
“SSC regions will be under the Federal Government of Somalia until the provisional constitution of Somalia is completed,” it added.
However, gunfire erupted between local militia and the Somaliland forces in the wake of the declaration that effectively usurped Hargeisa’s control on portions of the region.
Intensive clashes continued in the town’s eastern suburbs where militia loyal to a local clan have been manning a checkpoint since the end of last year.
Somaliland President Muse Bihi had last December withdrawn his forces that had been in control of the town and most parts of the Sool region over the past 15 years after violent protests.
As the demonstrations escalated in December 2022, local forces of the Somaliland administration responded with live fire, killing dozens.
By Monday evening, at least ten people were reported dead and several others injured in clashes.
Angered by the Las Anod situation, clan elders have been meeting in the town since last week to determine the fate of the inhabitants in Sool, Sanaag and Cayn regions collectively known as SSC. They are predominantly voicing out unionist slogans and raising the blue colour Somalia flag against secessionist Somaliland’s tri-colour flag.
Promoters of Somaliland had unilaterally declared independence from the rest of Somalia in May 1991, four months after the collapse of the dictatorial rule of the late Mohamed Siad Barre.
No international recognition
Despite aggressive campaigning and lobbying, Somaliland has not succeeded to secure international recognition.
Though no official statement has been released, the level of casualties is certainly growing, a Las Anod resident told the media.
“Those fighting are employing all sorts of light and heavy weapons,” said the resident.