The Ethiopian government announced on Monday that it had signed what it called a “historic Memorandum of Understanding” with Somaliland in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
A news update from the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister stated that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihe Abdi signed an MoU for partnership and cooperation. The office claimed that it ” is intended to serve as a framework for the multisectoral partnership between the two sides.”
Abiy Ahmed’s office views the agreement as crucial in helping Ethiopia “secure” access to the sea and broaden its options for accessing seaports.
“It also strengthens their security, economic, and political partnership. Furthermore, the Memorandum of Understanding indicates the pathway to bolstering their political and diplomatic relations,” said the statement from Abiy Ahmed’s office.
Abiy Ahmed’s government also sees the agreement as beneficial to Ethiopia’s role in enhancing regional peace and security.
Ethiopian state-owned media outlets are covering the story as if Ethiopia has secured ownership of access to the sea. Some Ethiopian officials are treating it as such. Taye Atske Selassie, who served as Ethiopia’s Ambassador to the United Nations and currently advises the Prime Minister, wrote on his Twitter page: “An idea whose time has come! A historic occassion that marks our longstanding quest for mutual development. Trust and understanding at the centre of our cooperation for greater amity.”
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed himself tweeted about it with a few words in Amharic confirming the coverage given by state-owned media outlets. “ፈጣሪ ይመስገን እንጂ ሌላ ምን ሊባል ይችላል!” which translates to “Thank God. What else can be said!”
Details of the agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland, which lacks recognition as a sovereign state, are not made available to the public.
The Somaliland President’s office has not yet released a statement on the agreement signed regarding port access.
Sources on social media, claiming to have accessed information from Somaliland, report that the agreement is for rental port access in Somaliland, not port ownership.
It is to be recalled that PM Abiy Ahmed triggered controversy across the Horn of Africa when he made claims over access to the Red Sea by hook or crook a few months ago. It triggered a response from Djibouti, Eritrea and Somalia.
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