Somaliland Defence Minister Resigns Over Port Deal With Ethiopia

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Somaliland’s Defence Minister, Abdiqani Mohamoud Ateye has resigned his appointment.

Ateye’s resignation is in protest over a deal allowing Ethiopia to use a port in the breakaway Somali region.

The former defence minister, however criticized President Muse Bihi Abdi for not consulting the ministers on the Ethiopia port deal, saying that he learnt about it through the media.

Ateye, who is from Somaliland’s Awdal region, where Ethiopia aims to establish a military base in Lughaya, cited a lack of consultation.

The agreement signed both countries is said to grant Ethiopia access to the Red Sea, with reports suggesting it recognizes Somaliland’s independence.

Somalia deems the agreement as an “aggression,” recalling its ambassador to Addis Ababa. Diplomatic tensions led to Ethiopia’s ambassador also returning to Addis Ababa.

It would be recalled that 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.

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.