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Ethiopia Justifies Port Deal with Somaliland, Citing Historical Context

Ethiopia Justifies Port Deal with Somaliland, Citing Historical Context

In response to the criticism surrounding its recent port agreement with the self-declared republic of Somaliland, the Ethiopian government has invoked the backdrop of its tumultuous 30-year conflict with Eritrea, characterising the deal as a consequence of a historical and legal mistake.

The Government Communication Service of Ethiopia posted on X (formerly Twitter), stating, “A civil war that lasted three decades, fomented by internal crisis and foreign conspiracies, occurred.”

Workers unload NGO food rations from the Thorco Liva ship before loading trucks at Berbera port of Somaliland on July 21, 2018. © Mustafa Saeed, AFP

The communication further explained, “At the end of the civil war and through both a historical and legal mistake, the country has remained landlocked for the past 30 years [after Eritrea’s secession in 1991].

This statement comes in the wake of criticism directed at the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Ethiopia and Somaliland on Monday, enabling Addis Ababa’s access to Somaliland’s ports. While Somaliland has indicated that Ethiopia will recognise its independence in return, Ethiopia has not officially confirmed this aspect of the agreement.

The port deal has sparked diplomatic tensions, with Somalia condemning it as a violation of its sovereignty and expressing its intent to challenge it by any legal means. The African Union and the United States have emphasised the importance of respecting Somalia’s sovereignty in the aftermath of the agreement.

Somaliland declared its independence from Somalia in 1991; however, it lacks international recognition as an independent state.

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