Berbera, Somaliland, May 30,
2009 (SL Times) – Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin left for
Berbera this week where he met with officials of a French company. A
press statement released by the French delegation said, "The results of
our visit to Berbera will be known within the next three months." The
Somaliland government, however, has not commented on the meeting.
Because of the lack of an official explanation, there has been a lot of
speculation about why the French businessmen and the president went to
Some reports say that the company wants to upgrade and invest in the
port Berbera. Other reports assert that the company plans to participate
in unloading the shipments of food aid to Ethiopia that has reached the
port of Berbera, while still other reports claim that Djibouti's
President, Ismail Omar Guelleh, had sent this company in order to
undermine a project by his former business partner and current foe,
Abdirahman Borre, who wants to invest in Berbera's port.
In addition to the Djiboutian angle, there is another aspect of this
news story that cannot be overlooked, which is the approaching
presidential election. The fact that the president held several meetings
with some of the communities in Berbera provides evidence in support of
this interpretation. Moreover, in the past, it has been a common
practice of President Dahir Rayale Kahin that once the date of elections
get closer, he starts talking about upgrading the port of Berbera and
invites into the country dubious characters posing as businessmen, like
the ones who were behind the sordid cement factory episode.