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News: Abiy moves to dispel tension with Somalia, blames other forces’ intent to ‘incite conflict’

PM Abiy Ahmed addressing questions raised by members of parliament (Photo: Government Communication)

Addis Abeba – In his latest appearance before lawmakers at the 14th regular session of the national parliament today, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed dismissed concerns on tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia after the former signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Somaliland in January. 

The Prime Minister said he didn’t think the government of Somalia “wants to engage in war with Ethiopia,” but cautions that third parties want to use the gap to incite “a proxy” conflict.

“The people of Ethiopia and Somalia are bound by blood. Many Ethiopians have died for the peace of Somalia. There is no country that has paid as much as Ethiopia for the peace of Somalia. This is because the peace of Somalia is the peace of Ethiopia,” the PM said.

He referred to the friendship between the two countries as “tight” and went on to assure that Ethiopia does not want any harm upon “its friend Somalia.”

The signing of the MoU on 01 January 2024, granting Ethiopia access to the sea in return for international recognition for Somaliland, has escalated tensions in neighboring Somalia, which argued that the MoU violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The move also generated several diplomatic statements from various countries pledging their support for Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

However, Ethiopia’s push back is so far limited to the statements of condemnation from Egypt and the Arab League countries, while it continued maintaining its position to see through the MoU.

“If it is right for us to go and die for peace in Mogadishu, and if it is right for us to go and die for peace in Darfur, then there should not have been a controversy when we said we should also die to protect the peace of the Red Sea,” he said.

Without mentioning names, the PM blamed “those who have opened media outlets for some of our diaspora brothers might try to influence our Somali brothers, but they cannot incite us to engage in conflict.”

We will not deny anything that is expected from us. What I hope and expect from them is for them to entertain our question fairly.

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PM Abiy

Ethiopia has never invaded any country in its history, he said. “We will not go to anyone, but if someone comes to us, don’t worry, we will protect you properly,” the PM assured the lawmakers.

Ethiopia’s quest for sea access is based on mutual benefit, he said, adding “this is good not only for Ethiopia but also for regional cooperation beyond Ethiopia.”

He highlighted Ethiopia’s aspiration is “for the development and prosperity of the Somali people”, and went on to say that if Somalia and Somaliland were to agree, Ethiopia would be “the first” to celebrate.

Ethiopia is the source of fresh water to all its neighboring countries including Somalia, which receives the flow of fresh water from four different basins, and Ethiopia has no intention of harming any countries from having abundant access to this fresh water, he said. “We will not deny anything that is expected from us. What I hope and expect from them is for them to entertain our question fairly.”

It is recalled that in a resolution it issued at the end of four days meetings by members of both the Executive and the Central Committee, the ruling Prosperity Party (PP) said that the party has decided to bring the Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU “to a practical agreement” while simultaneously giving attention to the principles of give and take to secure additional options to port access with other neighboring countries.

However, in his appearance today PM Abiy has refrained from directly mentioning Somaliland and instead focused on the tension with Somalia. AS

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