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Somalia rejects Kenya-proposed maritime treaty amid Ethiopia-Somaliland agreement

Friday April 12, 2024


Mogadishu (HOL) - Ali Omar, State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member of the Somali Federal Parliament, has strongly dismissed reports suggesting Somalia's involvement in a Kenya-proposed maritime treaty to resolve escalating tensions in the Horn of Africa.  

Omar emphasized Somalia's commitment to its territorial integrity in light of a contentious agreement between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland. "Reports of a maritime treaty involving Somalia and Ethiopia are completely unfounded."

The disputed treaty comes as a response to a January 1 agreement in which landlocked Ethiopia leased 20 kilometres of coastline from Somaliland in exchange for recognition of sovereignty and shares in Ethiopia's flag carrier. Somaliland asserts independence from Somalia but lacks international recognition. Ethiopia's MoU, perceived in Mogadishu as a breach of sovereignty, has led to increased regional discord and concerns of further instability.

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met with his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto in Nairobi on Thursday to discuss a diplomatic solution to the dispute.

Kenya, along with Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has stepped in with a treaty proposal designed to provide Ethiopia with "stable and predictable access to maritime resources" while respecting Somali sovereignty, according to Korir Sing'oei, Kenya's principal secretary for foreign affairs. The proposal also aims to temper the potential for conflict that might benefit Al-Shabab militants, who have historically exploited regional instability.

The backdrop of these developments is fraught with historical complexities. Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 following a brutal civil war, establishing its own government though not recognized as a sovereign state. Ethiopia, which lost its direct access to the sea in the 1990s after Eritrea's secession, has sought to secure maritime access to bolster its economic and military capabilities.

These regional maneuvers occur amidst broader geopolitical shifts, where global and local powers are vying for influence in one of Africa's most strategic corridors. 

The international community, including the United States and the United Kingdom, continues to support Somalia's territorial integrity while monitoring the unfolding situation closely. 


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