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3 Jan, 2024 10:26

Land-locked African state’s port plans blocked

Somalia has rejected an agreement signed by Ethiopia and Somaliland, claiming it “violates” the sovereignty of the country
Land-locked African state’s port plans blocked

Somalia has rejected an agreement on port access signed by Somaliland and Ethiopia, claiming the deal had no legal authority. The decision followed an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday. Somaliland split from Somalia in 1991, but is not internationally recognized as an independent state.

A memorandum of understanding had been agreed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi on Monday, which provided Addis Ababa with 50-year access to the Red Sea port of Berbera and permission to build a naval base.

However Mogadishu rejected the deal outright, with government spokesman Farhan Jimale insisting “Somaliland is part of Somalia and no deal is valid without Somalia’s approval.” 

Somalia also recalled its ambassador to Addis Ababa in protest over the deal, Jimale added.

A statement issued following Tuesday’s emergency cabinet meeting described Ethiopia’s actions as “a blatant violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia”.

“Prime Minister Hamza [Abdi Barre] expressed determination to protect sovereignty and said that no one could violate any part of Somalia’s land, sea, and air,” it added.

The East African state has called for the UN, the Arab League and African Union to support its decision. 

The deal would see 20km (12 miles) of sea access leased to Addis Ababa for 50 years, and also provides for the construction of a military base on the coast.

The Ethiopian prime minister wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that the port deal “officially recognizes the Republic of Somaliland, while Somaliland grants naval and commercial sea access on lease to Ethiopia for 50 years.”

Meanwhile, starting from 1 January, Ethiopia, along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran, officially joined the BRICS+ group, which initially consisted of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.