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Djiboutian President Defends His Country’s Ties With Somaliland.

Djibouti, Jan 24, 2004 (SL Times) – President Ismail Omer Ghelle of neighboring Djibouti defended his country’s policy of improving relations with Somaliland.

In an interview with the BBC Somali service on Thursday, Mr. Ghelle stressed that Djibouti was keen to improve relations between the two countries because “Somaliland is our immediate neighbor and Somalilanders are our brothers.”

The Djiboutian president who was full of praise for Somaliland said it was imperative for his country to respond positively to Somaliland’s successes.

“They emerged from the ruins to establish an environment where law and order prevails, where people move and express themselves freely without fear,” President Ghelle explained.

Mr Ghelle stressed that Somaliland deserves to be supported and commended for its achievements. Describing Somaliland's achievements as self-made, he added by saying, “They resolved to embark on a reconstruction and reintegration process without external help and the accomplishments they have made were not given to them as a gift.”

Asked whether the improved relations between the two neighbors might prompt Djibouti to recognize Somaliland, Mr. Ismail Omer Ghelle responded by saying, “Somalia is our neighbor, and it is they who united together under one flag, but whatever satisfies them now would be fine with us.”

The Djiboutian president’s positive remarks about Somaliland were received as good news by Somalilanders, following months of a heated debate across the political spectrum on the issue of relations between Somaliland and Djibouti. President Ghelle's statements also came as relief to President Rayale’s government which faced strong criticism from the opposition that relations with Djibouti were nothing more than a dubious enterprise favoring President Ghelle.

It was only about 5 months ago when Somaliland's Minister of Interior, Ismail Adan Osman, returned from a surprise state visit to Djibouti to announce that relations between the two countries were going to witness a significant level of improvement. At the time, the Interior Minister’s statement drew a lot of skepticism from the public. Given the remarkable progress made in the normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries in the last few months, Ismail Yare’s bragging about his government’s successes with Djibouti may be now taken more seriously.

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