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HomeNewsIs the agreement signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland legally binding?

Is the agreement signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland legally binding?

Somaliland - Ethiopia
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihe Abdi exchanging MoU documents (Photo : PD)

By Staff Reporter

ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – The Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Ethiopian Government and Somaliland on access to sea port for military bases has become a major discussion point among the people. 

Ahadu FM 94.3 Radio approached a legal expert regarding how the legitimacy and effectiveness of the agreement can be seen in terms of international law. There are people who say that the agreement signed between the two parties is not legally binding for the fact that Somaliland is still considered as part of Somalia. Though it has stayed as an independent country for about three decades, it has not yet received international recognition as an independent nation.    

It was said that through the agreement Ethiopia will secure a 12 kilometre sea port access for its naval forces for 50 years.

The legal expert, Tigabu Desalegn, said that although the agreement reached with Somaliland is considered to be important for Ethiopia, the legal gaps or the disputes that might come up with the passage of time cannot be arbitrated by international law as Somaliland has not yet been recognized as a sovereign nation. However, based on the principle of ‘give and take’, Ethiopia may take the upper hand to take advantage of the situation. But the deal may create disagreements with Somalia, the legal expert said.     

However, a political science teacher, Gutema Daniel, said that there is no reason for the agreement to cause any significant problems to Ethiopia and despite its failure to win international recognition, Somaliland has stayed as an “independent nation” for many years.

Moreover, he admitted that there might be some misunderstanding in the diplomatic relations with Somalia as a country. But concerning the universal law, he does not believe that it will bring about a serious problem.

The Somalia Government expressed dismay over the agreement signed between the Ethiopian Government and Somaliland, which has not yet been recognized as an independent nation. It said in a statement it released concerning the issue that the agreement violates its sovereignty and has no legal foundation.

The Ethiopian government said that having access to a leased “military base” is a major diplomatic success for Ethiopia.

Somaliland expects in return that Ethiopia recognizes it as an independent nation. But some are expressing concern that this decision is not regarded as a wise diplomatic move as Somaliland has not yet been given recognition by countries including AU and UN.

Meanwhile, the government of Somalia said that the agreement signed between the two parties is not legally binding and it is considered as a move that claims the territorial part of the country. The Somalia government has reportedly called its ambassador from Ethiopia at the wake of the agreement. 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with the experts’ opinion about this MOU between Ethiopia and Somaliland. This MOU is a document on a piece of paper much ado about nothing for both sides. Ethiopia is still without its own port and Somaliland is still unrecognized nation. Anyone one of them can back out of it and will face no legal repercussion.

    My honest advice to the two countries of Ethiopia and Somalia is to take advantage of this incidence and start a dialogue that looks into Ethiopia’s need for sea access. Both countries’ chance of becoming economic powerhouse is immense if they diligently work together. ‘Greater’ this or that of madness of the past did not work and ain’t gonna work either.

  2. the agreement between abiy ahmed and somaliland president, which is memorandum of recognition.. in my point of view this agreement that recognizing somaliland as a state is one of requirement in international law on recognition of state. so the reason that somaliland was not a memeber of UN and AU does not makes somaliland not as state, because there are countries which are not memeber of UN but they called as state. so if Ethiopia as a memeber of un and AU recognizes somaliland as state, that will not violate international law, since somaliland separeted from great somalia before 20 years back, so if somaliland recognized as a state by ethiopia does not seems problematic.

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