Somalia calls emergency cabinet meeting on Ethiopia-Somaliland port deal

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Somalia to discuss pact allowing landlocked Ethiopia to use Red Sea port of Berbera, state news agency reports.

Published On 2 Jan 2024

Somalia’s cabinet has called an emergency meeting to discuss a port deal between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland.

The Somalian cabinet will convene on Tuesday to discuss the plan after the deal to allow Ethiopia to use the Red Sea port of Berbera was signed the previous day. Tension has been simmering around the Horn of Africa as Ethiopia has raised its bid for access to a seaport.

Since Eritrea gained independence in 1991, Ethiopia has been landlocked. That has left Africa’s second most populous country relying on neighbouring Djibouti for most of its maritime trade.

But the agreement, signed in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, will clear the way for Ethiopia to set up commercial marine operations with access to a leased military base on the Red Sea, Abiy’s National Security adviser, Redwan Hussien, said.

In return, Somaliland would receive a share of state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, Redwan said, without giving more details.

Somalia’s cabinet will decide on a response at Tuesday’s meeting, the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) reported.

Somaliland has not gained widespread international recognition, despite declaring autonomy from Somalia in 1991. Somalia insists Somaliland remains part of its territory.

Last week the news agency said Somalia and Somaliland had agreed to restart talks to resolve their disputes, following mediation efforts led by Djibouti.

Abdi said that as part of the port deal, Ethiopia would be the first country to recognise Somaliland as an independent nation in due course.

The deal comes months after Abiy said the country should assert its right to access the Red Sea, rousing regional concern.

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