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Noticeable tension is growing between the Abiy Ahmed-led Prosperity Party and the government of Somalia after the former signed a  Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) with the Somaliland government to secure access to the Sea on the Gulf of Aden based on a renewable fifty years lease.

The African Union on Wednesday expressed concern about it. In a statement issued on the same day, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Commission of African Union, said that he has been closely following the development resulting from the signing of the MoU.

He called for ” calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension between the Governments of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Federal Republic of Somalia.”

He is particularly calling for Ethiopia and Somalia to not take any action that may unintentionally result in the “deterioration of the good relations between the two neighbouring Eastern African countries.”

His message also emphasized the duty to respect the Unity and Territorial Integrity of member states of the African Union.  The statement said that it is “imperative to respect unity, territorial integrity and full sovereignty of all African Union member states including Federal Republic of Somalia and Federal Democratic [R]republic of Ethiopia.”

In terms of action, the chairperson is calling for a negotiation between Ethiopia [ Abiy Ahmed’s Administration] and Somalia to Iron out differences in a constructive manner.

The Chairperson “urges the two brother countries to engage without delay in a négociation process to settle their differences in  the most constructive, peaceful and collaborative manner  to consolidate  and deepen their cooperation to serve peace  and security in the region.”

In November 2023, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed abruptly made claims before cabinet ministers and party leaders that Ethiopia must have access to the Red Sea – peacefully or by any other means.  His announcement alarmed countries in the region that shared the Red Sea Coastline including Eritrea.

In less than two months, he signed a MoU with Somaliland – which the government of Somalia called a violation of the sovereignty of  Somalia. The action has stirred anti-Ethiopian Sentiment in Somalia. Social media reports indicate that more than 750 ethnic Somali passengers have canceled Ethiopian Airlines ticket reservations.

The majority of Ethiopians do not seem to support the MoU signed with Somaliland. While some tend to see it as part of Oromumma’s alternative project of creating a “Kush Empire” with access to the sea, there are also those who tend to see the development as a sort of effort to recover lost legitimacy in Ethiopia.

So far there is no indication, whatsoever, if there was any formal discussion in the Ethiopian Parliament in connection with the agreement with Somaliland. I


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