The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative to Somalia, Francois Lonseny Fall, on Monday praised efforts by the self-declared republic of Somaliland to nurture democracy and enhance stability in the territory.
"The people of Somaliland are to be commended for the progress they have made towards security and true democracy," Fall, who visited Somaliland for talks with senior officials, political party leaders and civil society representatives, said.
Residents of Somaliland, he said, had "succeeded in rising above the conflicts that have stifled social progress and the peaceful aspiration of the vast majority of the Somali people for the past 14 years".
The visit was Fall's first trip to Somaliland, the northwestern Somali region that unilaterally seceded from the rest of Somalia after the collapse of regime of the late Muhammad Siyad Barre, in 1991.
The Somaliland president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, in a statement issued after meeting Fall expressed his dismay over what he alleged was a deliberate stand by both the UN and the international community not to recognise Somaliland's achievements.
He said the people of Somaliland believed they had been held hostage for 15 years, despite their desire to be separated from the rest of Somalia.
"In May 2001 the people of Somaliland reaffirmed their independence in a referendum in which more than 97 percent voted to maintain Somaliland as a separate state but still they are being kept hostage by the desire and designs of warlords....they view the UN ignorance as injustice," said Kahin.
Fall promised to report his observations to the UN Secretary-General.
"I am pleased to get this opportunity to see Hargeysa, listen, learn and discuss with leaders from diverse sectors. I will definitely report what I saw, heard and learnt here back to the UN Secretary-General and also to the UN Security Council session on Somalia on 9 November in New York," he said.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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