The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on Wednesday raised fears that the move by Ethiopia to recognise Somaliland as a republic may result in conflict in the region.
IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu in a statement called on both sides to deescalate tensions.
Gabeyehu noted given the circumstances, IGAD leaders be seized, and appeals to the two sisterly countries to collaborate towards a peaceful and amicable resolution of the situation, upholding the shared values that unite the IGAD family.
“IGAD remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting peace, stability, cooperation, and regional integration.”
Somalia on Tuesday recalled her ambassador to Ethiopia for “consultations,” even as it maintained that the deal signed in Addis Ababa between Ethiopia and Somaliland state is null and void. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed Monday between the Republic of Somaliland and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.
In the MoU, Ethiopia officially recognises Somaliland, while Somaliland grants naval and commercial sea access on lease to Ethiopia for 50 years.
President Muse Bihi Abdi and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali signed the deal.
This historic agreement ensures Ethiopia’s access to the sea for their naval forces, reciprocated by formal recognition of Somaliland, marking it a significant diplomatic milestone for the country.
“Today, it is with immense pride that I announce the mutually beneficial agreement between Somaliland and Ethiopia. In exchange for 20km sea access for the Ethiopian Naval forces, leased for a period of 50 years,” Abdi said.
Somalia Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has already said they would defend their territory by “all legal means possible” following Monday’s agreement that gives landlocked Ethiopia long-sought-after access to the Red Sea.
IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu said they are closely monitoring the situation.
“IGAD is diligently monitoring the situation and recognises the potential implications for regional stability,” said Gabeyehu in a statement.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a body of eight member states: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda (Eritrea is currently inactive), and is based in Djibouti.
Some Kenyan leaders have also weighed in on the matter rejecting the deal by Ethiopia and Somaliland.
Former Mandera Central MP Billow Kerrow said the decision by Somaliland administration to give 20 km of territory to Ethiopia for a naval military base is a “dumb idea that breaches international law.”
“Separatists fight for territory first and foremost; then, recognition. When you give away part of the territory, you lose legitimacy, and your ideals are buried. With such weakness, it’s a matter of time before Ethiopia tries to annex Somaliland itself,” he wrote.
The African Union is yet to comment over the matter, while Heads of state from the region have also remained tight-lipped over it.
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