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Breaking: Somaliland formally acknowledges giving Ethiopia sea access for Naval Forces in exchange for recognition

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi signing the MoU on Monday. Photo: PMO

Addis Abeba -Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formally acknowledged that the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed late Monday afternoon between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi includes providing sea access for Ethiopia’s Naval Forces in exchange for international recognition.

In a press statement sent to Addis Standard late this evening, Somaliland’s government said “this historic agreement ensures Ethiopia access to the sea for their naval forces, reciprocated by formal recognition of the republic of Somaliland, marking this as significant diplomatic milestone for our country,” the statement said.

The official readout released by the Ethiopian government Monday evening said the MoU will “pave the way to realize the aspiration of Ethiopia to secure access to the sea and diversify its access to seaports.”

Furthermore, Redwan Hussien, National Security Advisor to PM Abiy, said the MoU will also “paves the way for accessing a leased Military base…”

Somaliland’s statement quoted President Muse Bihi as saying that in his address after the signing of the MoU, he “emphasized the conscientious responsibility of every President to act in the best in tests of his people.”  

Acknowledging PM Abiy’s “request for seaport access for their naval forces, President Muse Bihi Abdi expressed that Somaliland endured a long quest for official recognition from Ethiopia,” it said.  

“Today, it is with immense pride, I announce the mutually beneficial agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia. 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,” said President Bihi. 

It is recalled that addressing lawmakers at the 3rd year 4th regular session of the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) on 14 November 2023, PM Abiy Ahmed said that Ethiopia was building a Navy and was seeking a sea outlet. He has referred to Ethiopia’s less talked about preparations of a Naval force. In June last year, the Ethiopian Navy has graduated several members trained in various professional fields, including in Navigation, Engineering, and Electricity.

Somaliland’s foreign Ministry said that “it is crucial to note that the leased sea access underscores the cooperative spirit and strategic partnership established through this diplomatic accord.”

The statement was released despite news that Somalia’s “cabinet will convene an emergency meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) to discuss and make decisions regarding the agreement.”

Somalia considers Somaliland, which has been a breakaway state for three decades, as part of its northern region.

Last week the two sides reached at a landmark agreement to resume talks aimed at achieving peace and mutual understanding to resolve long-standing issues. Under the mediation of Djibouti’s President, Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, the discussion took place on December 28th and 29th and was attended by Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somaliland’s President Muse Bihi Abdi. AS

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