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Somalia Rejects Ethiopia's Naval Base Plans but Open to Commercial Port Access Discussions

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Griffith Sarah

Apr 13, 2024

Somalia's rejection of the naval base proposal

In response to the growing discord, Kenya, in collaboration with Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has proposed a new maritime treaty. The suggested framework aims to regulate port access for landlocked nations within the region on commercial terms, potentially easing the tensions sparked by unilateral agreements.
Somalia has firmly opposed Ethiopia's recent initiative to establish a naval base in the autonomous region of Somaliland

In a significant development in East African geopolitics, Somalia has firmly opposed Ethiopia's recent initiative to establish a naval base in the autonomous region of Somaliland, while expressing openness to bilateral negotiations for commercial port access. This stance was articulated by a senior Somali official on Friday, underscoring the delicate balance of regional diplomacy and national sovereignty.


Tensions Rise Over Naval Base Proposal

Ethiopia, a landlocked country, incited controversy earlier this year by entering into an agreement with Somaliland, offering to acknowledge the region's independence in exchange for a 20-kilometer stretch of coastline. This move in January sparked a diplomatic rift with the Somali government, which views the deal as a violation of its territorial integrity. Since declaring self-rule in 1991, Somaliland has maintained de facto autonomy, though it is not internationally recognized as an independent state.


Somalia's Firm Stance on Sovereignty

Somalia's rejection of the naval base proposal was reiterated by Ali Omar, the Somali State Minister for Foreign Affairs, during an interview with Reuters. Omar emphasized that,


"Any potential agreement on port access must first see the cancellation of Ethiopia's current arrangement with Somaliland. Somalia will never accept a naval base," he declared, adding that Somalia remains ready to discuss commercial port usage under international maritime law conditions.

Regional Powers Propose Maritime Treaty

In response to the growing discord, Kenya, in collaboration with Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), has proposed a new maritime treaty. The suggested framework aims to regulate port access for landlocked nations within the region on commercial terms, potentially easing the tensions sparked by unilateral agreements.


Looking Ahead

As discussions continue, the focus remains on finding a pathway that respects the interests and sovereignty of all parties involved. Somalia has expressed its willingness to entertain proposals that align with its national interests, which prioritize maintaining its sovereignty, political independence, and territorial unity.



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