On Saturday (Jan. 06), Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed a law nullifying the memorandum of understanding signed between the Government of Ethiopia & Somaliland.
The symbolic move comes as Ethiopia and a breakaway Somali region announced a deal on January 1st.
As part of the deal, Somaliland plans to lease a 20-km stretch of land along its coastline to Ethiopia to establish a naval base, Ethiopian Prime minister Abiy Ahmed said at the signing.
Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi said the agreement included a statement that Ethiopia would soon recognize the territory as an independent country.
That is where the bone of contention lies. Somaliland has always contested the legally binding character of the state of union which was to form a unified country after Somalia and Somaliland respectively gained independence from Italy and Britain.
Somalia has described the move as an act of “aggression” and recalled its ambassador from Ethiopia.
The AU chairperson urged Ethiopia and Soamlia to engage without delay in a negotiation process to settle their differences
Ethiopia lost its access to the sea when Eritrea seceded in 1993. Ethiopia has been using the port in neighboring Djibouti for most of its imports and exports.