...Hili linabidi lipigwe vita na AU na nchi zote za kiafrika. US now wants a military base in Somaliland By KEVIN J KELLEY THE EAST AFRICAN Special Correspondent The State Department recently sent a team of contractors to Somaliland to explore the possibility of establishing a US military presence in the self-declared independent state. According to a report by the Washington Post, the US military contingent would be based at an old airstrip in Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991. Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin confirmed that his government is conducting talks with the US on this subject and expressed willingness to host an American detachment. We will welcome them and accept them, Mr Kahin said. But things have not materialised so far. On its part, the US has said it has no intention of basing troops in any part of Somalia. American officials have also recently indicated that Washington is not close to recognising Somaliland as a full-fledged nation. The US says the African Union should play the lead role in deciding Somalilands status. Michael Ranneberger, the US ambassador to Kenya, said in response to a question during a March 12 State Department-organised Web chat that we have no intention to establish any military bases in Somalia. The questioner had asked specifically whether the US planned to establish a military base in Berbera, a Somaliland port city on the Gulf of Aden. At the same time, the United States has been steadily developing a closer relationship with Somaliland. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer visited Hargeisa, the Somaliland capital, for talks last month with Mr Kahin and opposition leaders. Ms Frazer subsequently told the US Congress that Somaliland has achieved a commendable level of stability, largely without external support or assistance, which the international community must help to sustain regardless of the question of formal recognition. The US has also pledged to provide financial support for Somalilands presidential elections scheduled for August. Somaliland President Kahin had visited Washington in January for an earlier set of talks with Ms Frazer and other US officials. The Washington Post describes US policy toward Somaliland as the subject of an unresolved debate between the State Department and the Pentagon. The Post has reported that the Pentagon favours recognising Somaliland while the State Department argues for continued US support of Somalias Transitional Federal Government.