Somalia to hold emergency meeting today, a day after Ethiopia-Somaliland deal announcedwhich will allow Ethiopia to gain access to the sea through a port located on the territory of the breakaway region from Somalia.

The surprise agreement was signed after Somalia and Somaliland agreed last week to resume negotiations to resolve bilateral issues after years of political tension.

The agreement between Ethiopia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Somaliland — created after the region seceded from Somalia in 1991 and is not recognized by the international community — “will pave the way for the realization of Ethiopia’s aspirations to secure its access to the sea and to diversify its access to sea ports”, pointed out yesterday, Monday, the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Allows Ethiopia to acquire an unspecified piece of Berbera port, in the Red Seaa few months after Abiy had indicated that his country should strengthen its right to access this sea, statements that had raised concerns in the region.

In response, Somalia’s government “will convene an emergency meeting today to discuss and take decisions on the agreement the Somaliland administration made with Ethiopia,” Somali state television SNTV reported on X.

There is currently no reaction from Somalia’s president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, but his predecessor, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, wrote in X that the deal was of “serious concern to Somalia and Africa as a whole”.

Berbera is an African port in the southern part of the Gulf of Adenat the entrance to the Red Sea leading to the Suez Canal.

“Regional stability” at “risk”

“The actions of the Ethiopian government are a clear defiance of international norms and legal frameworks, a flagrant violation of Somali territorial sovereignty”, denounced the Somali president’s special representative for Somaliland, Abdikarim Hussein Guled, in a post on X yesterday, speaking of a “unilateral action that endangers regional stability ».

The Ethiopian prime minister’s national security advisor, Redouan Hussein, clarified yesterday that as part of the agreement, his country will gain access to a military base that it will rent and which is located in the Red Sea.

A former British territory, Somaliland unilaterally declared independence from Somalia in 1991, at a time when the country was plunged into chaos from which it has yet to emerge. However, the independence of the region, which has its own institutions and has approximately 4.5 million inhabitants, has not been recognized by the international community.

Somali authorities and Somaliland announced last week that they were holding talks brokered by Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, the first since 2020 when previous negotiations failed.

Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa, found itself landlocked after 1993 and Eritrean independence, after a long conflict. But it maintained access to an Eritrean port until the 1998 – 2020 war. Since then most of Ethiopia’s trade has been through Djibouti.

Addis Ababa acquired 19% of Berbera Port in 2018, according to DP World, the company that manages it, which controls 51% of the port. The remaining 30% belongs to Somaliland.