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TRTWorld.com: Arab League, US condemn Ethiopia-Somaliland Red Sea deal

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Thursday, 04 January 2024

Cairo-based League says the deal, which gives Addis Ababa long-sought access to Red Sea, "threatens" territorial integrity of Somalia.

Somali people march against the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal, in Mogadishu / Photo: Reuters
 
Reuters

Somali people march against the Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal, in Mogadishu / Photo: Reuters

The Arab League and the United States have rejected a Red Sea access deal between Ethiopia and Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland, saying the pact violates Somalia's sovereignty.

The League "rejects and condemns any memorandums of understanding that violate Somalia’s sovereignty or attempts to benefit from the fragility of the Somali internal situation and faltering Somali negotiations," the Cairo-based group said in a statement on Wednesday.

It warned against exploiting conditions "to extract part of Somali territory in violation of the rules and principles of international law, and in a way that threatens the territorial integrity of Somalia as a whole."

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Monday between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, giving Ethiopia access to Red Sea ports.

Abiy's office hailed the pact as "historic" and said it is "intended to serve as a framework for the multi-sectoral partnership between the two sides."

But Somalia rejected Ethiopia's Red Sea port deal with Somaliland on Tuesday and called the agreement a threat to good neighbourliness and a violation of its sovereignty.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud called his Egyptian counterpart late on Tuesday in the wake of the tensions between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa concerning the deal.

US says no recognition for breakaway Somaliland

The United States rejected international recognition for breakaway Somaliland and called for calm after the region's leaders signed a deal with Ethiopia.

"The United States recognizes the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia within its 1960 borders," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

"We join other partners in expressing our serious concern," he said, "about the resulting spike in tensions in the Horn of Africa."

"We urge all stakeholders to engage in diplomatic dialogue," he said.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate of about 4.5 million people, declared independence from Somalia in 1991, a move not recognised internationally and staunchly opposed by Mogadishu.

Somaliland President Abdi, who signed the deal with Ethiopian PM Abiy, said that in return for providing sea access, Ethiopia would "formally recognise" Somaliland.

The Ethiopian government has not confirmed that it would recognise Somaliland. Somalia has withdrawn its ambassador from Addis Ababa and vowed to defend its sovereignty.

But Somalia has been in near constant chaos the past three decades. Somaliland has been seen as offering an oasis of stability, although it has failed to achieve international recognition.

Ethiopia was cut off from the coast after Eritrea seceded and declared independence in 1993 following a three-decade war, forcing Africa's second-most populous nation to channel commerce through an expensive arrangement with Djibouti.


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