Somalia 'cancels' Ethiopia-Somaliland maritime agreement

Tensions are rising in the Horn of Africa. The Somali president announced on Saturday evening (January 6th) that he had signed a law to "cancel" a maritime agreement between Ethiopia and the separatist region of Somaliland. The latter declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991, but is not recognized by the international community.

The location of the port of Berbera, located in the breakaway region of Somaliland, Somalia. © FMM Studio

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Nairobi, Albane Thirouard

Signed on 1 January, the memorandum of understanding signed between Somaliland and Ethiopia is supposed to grant maritime access to Addis Ababa, but Mogadishu considers it "illegal" and against its sovereignty. "This law illustrates our determination to protect our unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity," Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on X (ex-Twitter). According to him, the law "nullifies" the memorandum of understanding between Addis Ababa and Hargeisa, which he considers "illegal".

The scope of this law, however, seems symbolic. The separatist region of Somaliland has had its own government since 1991, prints its own currency and issues its own passports. Although Somalia strongly contests its claim to independence, in reality it has little control over the affairs of the self-proclaimed state. The lack of international recognition, however, keeps Somaliland in a state of isolation.

The compromise signed on 1 January aims to grant landlocked Ethiopia access to a 50-kilometre strip of Somaliland for <> years. Hargeisa claimed that in exchange, Ethiopia would officially recognize Somaliland as an independent state. Addis Ababa did not confirm this, but said in a statement that "a thorough assessment" would be carried out to take a position.

As soon as it was announced, the memorandum of understanding was strongly rejected by Mogadishu, which denounced it as an "act of aggression".

The rise in tensions is also of concern to the international community. The United States, the European Union, the African Union, but also the Arab League, Egypt and Turkey have called for respect for Somalia's sovereignty.

Read alsoSomalia challenges the Ethiopia-Somaliland agreement on Ethiopian access to the Red Sea

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Read on the same topics:

  • Somalia
  • Ethiopia
  • Somaliland