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Abiy Ahmed defends Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU amid Somali government protests

Thursday July 4, 2024

Mogadishu (HOL) - Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed addressed criticisms from the Somali government regarding Ethiopia's recent agreement with Somaliland, emphasizing Ethiopia's commitment to peaceful resolutions and mutual development.

"There is no need to go around other countries to accuse us. We are ready for discussion here in Addis Ababa," Abiy stated, addressing accusations from Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud about the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland. The agreement, which involves Ethiopia leasing 20 kilometers of Somaliland's Red Sea coastline in exchange for recognizing Somaliland's independence, has been deemed illegal and unacceptable by Somalia.

The comments come days after an attempt by Turkey to formally mediate between the two East African neighbours.

"It is very simple because we have no fight with the Somali government," Abiy said, noting that the Somali government "chose to go around and accuse us." He added, "My advice is don’t waste money; we spend money when we go around countries. There is no need to go around other countries to accuse us when it is possible to come to us in Addis Ababa. We are ready for a discussion," suggesting that resources could be better spent on development projects within Somalia.

"It is very simple because we have no fight with the Somali government," Abiy added.

"But Ethiopia has a question, it is difficult to be landlocked with an economy of this size. This is a national interest issue." Ethiopia wants to "reconcile this without lives lost; without insulting each other and without wasting money traveling to [other] countries. If there is a win-win approach for common benefit, the Ethiopian government is always ready to work together. It can’t be a shame when it is Ethiopia’s interest and correct when it is others’ interest," he said.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud recently responded firmly to Ethiopia's actions, emphasizing Somalia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "Somalia will not accept any agreements that violate our sovereignty," he declared. Referring to the MoU, he stated, "This agreement is illegal and unacceptable. We will not recognize any deal that undermines Somalia's territorial integrity."

President Mohamud criticized Ethiopia's approach, saying, "Instead of respecting our borders, Ethiopia has chosen to make deals with breakaway regions. This is a direct affront to Somalia's unity and sovereignty." He expressed hope for a peaceful resolution but remained firm on Somalia's position, stating, "We are committed to protecting our nation's sovereignty. We welcome dialogue, but our stance on the Somaliland issue is non-negotiable."

To mediate these tensions, Turkey has facilitated initial talks between Ethiopia and Somalia, which have been described as candid and forward-looking. These discussions are set to continue in Ankara in September. "The Ethiopian and Somali foreign ministers had a candid, cordial and forward-looking exchange," according to Turkey's Foreign Ministry​​​​.


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