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Somaliland opposition party criticizes port deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland

Tuesday January 9, 2024

Hargeisa (HOL) - The chairman of the Somaliland main opposition party Wadani, Hirsi Ali Haji Hassan, has criticized the recent agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia, which allows landlocked Ethiopia to access Somaliland's coastline.

Speaking in Hargeisa on Monday, Mr. Hirsi stated that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the agreement, emphasizing that the Somaliland government did not explain clearly to the public.

"The agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia is shrouded in darkness. We prioritize recognition and welcome the friendship and cooperation between Somaliland and Ethiopia, but the community does not accept such an agreement. The reason is that the government did not explain the agreement's details to the public," said Hirsi.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland's president signed the memorandum of understanding for access to the sea last week. Somaliland would lease a 20-kilometre (12.4-mile) stretch of its coastline to Ethiopia as part of the deal.

However, the chairman emphasized that the memorandum of understanding does not confirm that Ethiopia will recognize Somaliland, but it says that Ethiopia will consider recognition after securing its interests. He added that the recognition of one country is not sufficient for Somaliland, citing examples of countries with recognition from multiple governments but not yet part of the international community.

The opposition's rejection of the agreement comes a day after the defence minister of the self-declared republic of Somaliland resigned in protest against a deal. Abdiqani Mohamoud Ateye criticized Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi "for not consulting the council of ministers on the port deal with Ethiopia," saying they "heard about it from the media."

Mr Ateye hails from Somaliland's Awdal region, where Ethiopia reportedly wants to set up its military base in the coastal town of Lughaya.

Two days ago, Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed a law nullifying an agreement by the breakaway Somaliland region to grant Ethiopia access to the Red Sea in return for recognition as an independent nation.

Somaliland, a region strategically located next to the Gulf of Aden, broke away from Somalia in 1991 as the country collapsed into warlord-led conflict.


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