By John Ikani
Ethiopia, a landlocked nation, has inked an initial agreement with Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, to utilize the Berbera port along the Red Sea.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and Somaliland President, Muse Bihi Abdi, sealed the memorandum of understanding, marking a significant step in their collaboration.
As part of the accord, Somaliland plans to lease a 20-km stretch of its coastline to Ethiopia for the establishment of a marine force base, enhancing strategic interests.
Boasting a population exceeding 120 million, Ethiopia, the most populous landlocked country globally, aims to fortify the bonds of security, economics, and politics with Somaliland, as highlighted in a statement from the Ethiopian prime minister’s office.
President Abdi disclosed that the agreement incorporates an assurance from Ethiopia regarding the potential recognition of Somaliland as an independent nation in the near future.
Notably, Somaliland separated from Somalia over three decades ago, yet lacks recognition from the African Union and the United Nations. Somalia swiftly reacted, asserting its sovereignty and territorial integrity as non-negotiable.
“Somalia is indivisible. Its sovereignty and territorial integrity is uncompromisable,” emphasized Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, Somalia’s petroleum and mineral resources minister.
Social media responses from Somalia echoed this sentiment, stating Ethiopia’s military pact with the regional leader overstepped the Federal Government of Somalia’s mandate.
In spite of the tensions, both Somalia and Somaliland recently agreed in Djibouti to enhance cooperation on security and combat organized crime.
The development is pivotal as Ethiopia, having lost its sea access in 1993 due to Eritrea’s secession, predominantly relies on Djibouti’s port for import and export activities.