Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday that it conducted a briefing for the Diplomatic Community in Addis Ababa concerning the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently signed between Abiy Ahmed’s government and Somaliland government.
A news update from the Ministry did not specify the number of diplomatic missions that attended the briefing.
Redwan Hussien, Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Security Advisor, addressed the diplomats. He stated that “the MoU will allow Ethiopia to diversify its options regarding access to the sea and ports. Furthermore, Ethiopia will have an important role in the peace and security of the region in tandem with ensuring its survival.”
Gedion Timotheos, Ethiopia’s Minister for Justice, also participated in the briefing. He is cited as saying “that the MoU is not only about access to the sea or port but it also includes the vast areas of cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, technology, agriculture, and tourism.”
The briefing also highlighted Ethiopia’s pursuit of alternative access to the sea through peaceful means. Taye Atske Selassie, Foreign Policy advisor to Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, said that “Ethiopia advocates peaceful means in accessing the sea and gaining ports,” as cited in the news update from the MFAE.
The MoU signed between the Abiy Ahmed Administration and Somaliland has triggered reactions. Somalia expressed anger, with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud calling for an emergency meeting, labeling the MoU a violation of Somalia’s sovereignty and predicting a resurgence of the militant Al-Shabab group.
Egypt, who announced that there would be no more GERD negotiation after the fourth round of negotiation ended in disagreement, seems to be seizing the opportunity to forge a military alliance with Somalia. Egypt has been lobbying for a military base near the Ethiopian border. There were reports that it has tried with South Sudan and Somalia in the past. The Somalian President is reportedly traveling to Egypt this week.
Tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia have escalated post-MoU. The United States issued a statement emphasizing the importance of respecting Somalia’s sovereignty and urging both countries to peacefully resolve their differences.
The African Union and European Union have also issued statements urging respect for Somalia’s sovereignty.
The Ethiopian government announced plans to finalize a comprehensive agreement with Somaliland within a month. Somaliland seeks recognition as a sovereign state in exchange for granting Ethiopia a 20-kilometer military base and commercial maritime access along the Gulf of Aden coast under a 50-year lease.
While pro-government Ethiopians (reportedly over 13 million members in the ruling party) support the MoU, the majority of Ethiopians believe that Abiy Ahmed’s administration is introducing more problems without resolving existing ones.
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