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Ethiopia-Somaliland Port Agreement Annulled by president

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Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Saturday evening nullified an agreement reached between Ethiopia and Somaliland that would see Addis Ababa have seaport access in return for the recognition of Hargeisa, the largest city in Somaliland.

Mohamud said he signed into law a legislation passed by the two Houses of Parliament voiding the “illegal Memorandum of Understanding” which was inked on Jan. 1 to give landlocked Ethiopia rights to use the Red Sea port of Berbera, a move Mogadishu termed as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and appealed to the international community to intervene. The president said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, that the move demonstrates a commitment to preserve unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. “With the support of our lawmakers and our people, this law is an illustration of our commitment to safeguard our unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity as per international law,” the president said. Mohamud, whose government has since recalled its ambassador from Ethiopia, emphasized that this law represents Mogadishu’s official stance on the port deal and acts as a strong deterrent against any encroaching on Somali territory.

The agreement, which allows Ethiopia to set up commercial marine operations with access to a leased military base on the Red Sea, has been condemned by the Somali government, Somalis across the globe including foreign countries who have termed the move an “act of aggression”. Under the deal, Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and has not been recognized internationally, would be recognized by Ethiopia and receive a share of state-owned Ethiopian Airlines. “In exchange for 20 km sea access for the Ethiopian naval forces, leased for a period of 50 years, Ethiopia will formally recognize the Republic of Somaliland, setting a precedent as the first nation to extend international recognition to our country,” Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi said on Jan. 1 after signing the port deal with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Bihi later defended the deal on Jan. 4 when he returned to Somaliland, saying he did not “sell the country”, noting that both Somaliland and Ethiopia saw their interests in the deal.

President Mohamud called on the Somali citizens and leaders to strengthen their unity in this historical situation, and to separate political issues that can be agreed upon and the important issues that will affect the future generations.

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