The African Union, European Union, the United Nations, and the United States are urging Ethiopia and Somalia to ease tension. Their representatives attended the IGAD meeting in Kampala, Uganda, this week, where the leaders of Non-Aligned Movement countries were gathering.
Ethiopia, a key player in IGAD, did not participate in the meeting. Somalia has attended it.
Tension between Ethiopia and Somalia escalated after the former signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the breakaway Somaliland—an entity that has existed as a de facto state for over three years.
Somalia rejects any mediation effort on the matter. In response to the statement from the African Union Political Affairs Peace and Security resolution, released on January 17, Somalia stated, “There is no space for mediation unless Ethiopia retracts its illegal MOU and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia.”
Somalia argues that Ethiopia violated its sovereignty and territorial integrity by signing the MoU with Somaliland. So far, Ethiopia has not officially responded to Somalia, except to reiterate that its pursuit of access to the sea would remain peaceful. However, there were reported attempts on the part of the Ethiopian government to reach out to Somali President, Hassan Sheik, who reportedly declined to answer the phone. Neither Ethiopia nor Somalia confirmed it.
This week, Somalia re-routed Ethiopian Airlines chartered flight to Somaliland after it denied airspace. Ethiopian Airlines confirmed to BBC Amharic Service that the Somaliland Bound Plane was turned back and landed in Addis Ababa.
Both Ethiopians in the country and abroad tend to believe that Abiy Ahmed’s uncalculated actions are dragging Ethiopia into conflict with its neighbors. While opposition parties like the Ethiopian Citizens For Social Justice Party—increasingly seen as an ally of the ruling Prosperity Party—support the agreement, Enat Party, another major opposition political party in the country, opposes the agreement. However, the Enat Party has urged Somalia to resolve the matter peacefully.
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