Somalia Rejects Proposal for Ethiopian Naval Base in Secessionist Region

Somalia stands firm against Ethiopia’s aspirations to build a naval base in Somaliland, asserting its position against the proposal. Despite this, Somalia remains open to bilateral discussions concerning commercial port access, as emphasized by a senior Somali official in recent statements.

Tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia heightened when Ethiopia forged an agreement with Somaliland in January, leasing a portion of its coastline in exchange for recognizing Somaliland’s independence. Somalia promptly condemned the deal, asserting its territorial claim over Somaliland, notwithstanding the latter’s autonomous status since 1991.

To mitigate the escalating discord, Kenya, in consultation with Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), proposed a maritime treaty. This treaty seeks to regulate how landlocked states in the region can access ports on commercial terms. Somalia’s state minister for foreign affairs, Ali Omar, reiterated the condition for any discussions on port access: Ethiopia must annul its agreement with Somaliland.

Omar reaffirmed Somalia’s unwavering opposition to Ethiopia’s naval base plans in the region. Nevertheless, he underscored Somalia’s willingness to entertain proposals that adhere to international maritime laws. Somalia’s paramount interests lie in protecting its sovereignty, political independence, and unity, serving as guiding principles for any negotiations or agreements regarding port access in the region.

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