Somalia’s cabinet says pact allowing Ethiopia to use Red Sea port of Berbera endangers the region’s stability.
Somalia’s cabinet has said that a pact its breakaway region of Somaliland had signed with Ethiopia allowing it to use the Red Sea port of Berbera was null and void, adding that it endangered the region’s stability.
Somalia also recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia on Tuesday for deliberations over the Somaliland port agreement.
Landlocked Ethiopia relies on neighbouring Djibouti for most of its maritime trade. Tension has been simmering around the Horn of Africa as Ethiopia has raised its bid for access to a seaport.
Monday’s agreement, signed in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, would clear the way for Ethiopia to set up commercial marine operations giving it access to a leased military base on the Red Sea, Abiy’s National Security adviser Redwan Hussien said.
The agreement also included recognising Somaliland as an independent nation in due course. Somaliland would also receive a share of state-owned Ethiopian Airlines, according to Redwan.
“Ethiopia’s step… endangers the stability and peace of the region,” Somalia’s cabinet said in a statement after an emergency meeting.
Since Eritrea gained independence in 1991, Ethiopia has been landlocked. That has left Africa’s second most populous country relying on neighbouring Djibouti for most of its maritime trade.
Somaliland has not gained widespread international recognition, despite declaring autonomy from Somalia in 1991. Somalia insists Somaliland remains part of its territory.
Last week, the the Somali National news Agency (SONNA) said Somalia and Somaliland had agreed to restart talks to resolve their disputes, following mediation efforts led by Djibouti.
The deal comes months after Abiy said the country should assert its right to access the Red Sea, rousing regional concern.