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US congressional aides visit Hargeysa

Two US congressional aides on Monday paid a visit to the Somaliland capital, Hargeysa, where they held talks with the Somaliland president, Dahir Riyale Kahin, a US diplomat has confirmed to IRIN.

The US delegates were accompanied by Glenn Warren, a political officer for Somali affairs at the US embassy in Nairobi, a local source told IRIN. According to this source, they were in Hargeysa "for about two to three hours and then left. No-one knows what they discussed with the president."

The delegates were staffers from the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on "a fact-finding tour of the region", said the diplomat. "They have been to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and will go on to Djibouti and Asmara."

In another development, the Somaliland House of Elders had extended the life of the current parliament by one year, another source in Hargeysa told IRIN on Tuesday. According to him, this will give the parliament time to prepare for elections later this year.

Meanwhile the registration of political parties continues, with two parties having registered two weeks ago.

One of them, Kulmiye, is headed by former Somaliland Planning Minister Ahmad Muhammad Silanyo, who is considered a likely contender for the Somaliland presidency. "At this stage he [Silanyo] has to be considered one of the front runners," a Somaliland observer told IRIN.

The number two in the party is another prominent Somaliland figure, former Foreign Minister Ahmad Salah Fakare.

Other sources in Somaliland told IRIN that Kulmiye enjoyed the support of Isma'il Ali Abokor, who was vice-president under the late president of Somalia, Muhammad Siyad Barre, and of Umar Arte Ghalib, Siyad's last prime minister.

According to these sources, the Kulmiye leadership "is suspected of hoping to reunite Somaliland with Somalia".

However, a source familiar with the setting up of Kulmiye told IRIN that "Silanyo's only goal is to run for the Somaliland presidency. I don't think he is thinking beyond that at this juncture."

"Isma'il Ali Abokor and Umar Arte have no connection directly or indirectly with Kulmiye," this source added.

Attempts by IRIN to reach Silanyo and Fakare were unsuccessful.

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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