In response to the announcement of an agreement between Somaliland and Addis Ababa, allowing Ethiopian access to the Red Sea through a port located in the separatist region of Somalia, Somali authorities have declared their intent to defend their territory through “all legal means.” On January 2, 2024, Somalia recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia.
The Somali government vehemently rejects the framework agreement signed on January 1, 2024, between Ethiopia and Somaliland. This stance was conveyed by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre following an extraordinary meeting of the presidential cabinet and the federal parliament.
Somaliland, a region of Somalia that declared independence in 1991, faces opposition from the federal government. Ethiopia, in a groundbreaking move, became the first African state to recognize Somaliland as a sovereign entity, exchanging this recognition for access to the Red Sea. The agreement has stirred controversy and tensions, as highlighted by our correspondent in Nairobi, Gaëlle Laleix.
“I want to tell Ethiopia that its aspirations are impossible,” declared President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud before Parliament on Tuesday morning. “We will protect every square centimeter of our sacred land,” he added.
The Somali authorities view Ethiopia’s initiative as a violation of Somalia’s territorial integrity. Consequently, the Prime Minister announced the recall of the Somali ambassador to Addis Ababa.
The region does not need more nests of conflict
Beyond Somalia’s borders, concerns have been raised. The Vice President of the Kenyan National Assembly, for instance, expressed his views on social media, stating that Ethiopia’s initiative “is the best recipe for conflict in the Horn of Africa.”
Official reactions from Djibouti are awaited. For now, only Alexis Mohamed, a presidential adviser, has spoken out, emphasizing that “the region does not need more nests of conflict.”
Djibouti has been Ethiopia’s primary outlet to the sea until now. This agreement is unexpected, especially considering that just last week in Djibouti, Somalia and Somaliland had agreed to resume their negotiations, a diplomatic breakthrough hailed by the presidency.
The unfolding situation underscores the complexities and potential regional repercussions of diplomatic agreements in the Horn of Africa, with geopolitical dynamics evolving rapidly in response to these unexpected developments.