International support for Somalia in port dispute with Ethiopia

A row over a port deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland has escalated into a diplomatic crisis, with Somalia seeking Egypt’s backing and the EU condemning the move.

A maritime dispute between Ethiopia and Somaliland on one side and Somalia on the other has drawn the attention and support of Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi for Somalia.

On Monday, Ethiopia inked a deal to access one of the ports in Somaliland, a self-declared state that Somalia claims as its own. Somalia reacted with anger and dismay to the deal, calling it a “hostile act” and an infringement of its sovereignty.

Somalia vowed to use all legal means to challenge the deal.

“The Somali constitution recognizes Somaliland as part of Somalia, and this deal, which has no legal basis, violates the principles of the UN, AU, and IGAD,” the Prime Minister stated.

Somalia also summoned its envoy to Addis Ababa for consultations and urged the international community to pressure Ethiopia to drop its plan to use the Red Sea port.

Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi expressed his solidarity with Somalia in a phone call with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. He said that “Egypt will stand firmly with Somalia and support its security and stability”. His spokesman, Ahmed Famy, also said that the two leaders discussed “regional issues” and their bilateral ties.

Somali President Mohamud also had a phone conversation with Qatar’s Emir, Tamim bin Hamad, about their mutual interests and regional affairs, according a statement of the Somali presidency.

The European Union denounced the deal, calling for respect for Somalia’s “unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity”.

“This is vital for the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa region,” the EU said in a statement to reject the controversial port deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland.

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