Somaliland will not cooperate with "Warlord" Yusuf
Somaliland, an enclave on the Gulf of Aden, declared independence from anarchic Somalia in 1991 and has since enjoyed relative peace but is unrecognised internationally.
"We're a government functioning with a democratically elected president. How can we deal with a warlord who is not elected by his own people?" Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.
"I won't deal with him. When he becomes president of Somalia, like me elected by his own people, maybe we can talk."
Yusuf was elected on October 10 as head of Somalia's government by delegates attending a national conference held in Nairobi.
In late October the enclave urged Yusuf, former leader of Somalia's Puntland territory, to withdraw members of his clan from near its border, accusing him of attacking Somaliland even after his election as Somali president. Yusuf's aides say Somaliland started the fighting, which has now abated.
Somaliland has fought sporadic clashes with Puntland for years over the ownership of eastern areas of Somaliland which Puntland's leaders claim as their own on the basis of ethnicity.
Hoping to turn a new page, Yusuf has pledged to work peacefully with Somaliland as he tries to restore order to Somalia, which descended into anarchy in 1991 following the ousting of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
He has vowed to bring stability to Somalia within one year.
Kahin said anarchy in Somalia would doom to failure the 14th attempt at creating an effective central administration.
"I don't see it as a government, it's a dream of a government that they have, it's not a practical government. It's an exile government that doesn't exist. Somalia doesn't exist. There is chaos and anarchy," he said.
Diplomats say the re-establishment of the government in Somalia is a key condition for foreign donor funding for its attempts to rebuild an effective national administration.
Its leadership is due to return to the country after a team of lawmakers flew in to Somalia's capital Mogadishu this week to prepare for Yusuf's arrival, but no date has been set.
Mohamud Abdullahi Jama, information minister and deputy prime minister in Yusuf's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), said the Somaliland authorities had consistently refused to take part in the peace talks that resulted in Yusuf's election.
Nevertheless representatives of Somaliland's clans were members of the TFG's parliament, and once the government was successfully established back in Somalia "hopefully we will come to some understanding" with Somaliland, he said.
Kahin, in South Africa to drum up support for international recognition of his territory, said Somaliland would fight off any attempts of reunification.
"We will have only brotherly neighbourhood, no chance of reunification," Kahin said. "The people of Somaliland have made their decision not to go again into union with Somalia through a referendum and I cannot change the will of the people."
Kahin spoke after his officials gave a presentation entitled "Africa's Secret Success Story" at a Johannesburg gathering.
"I have come to indicate to the South African government and its people our case for recognition. We have said many times African countries should take the lead in this," he said.
Somaliland, a region of 3.5 to 4.5 million people, won independence from Britain in 1960 and formed a united republic with ex-Italian Somalia. An uprising against Barre was followed by years of devastation as he turned his forces against the northwestern enclave. When Barre fled, Somaliland split away.