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Ethiopia is free to have access to the sea, says the president of Somalia

Ethiopia is free to have access to the sea, says the president of Somalia

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – President Hassan Sheikh says Ethiopia has the right to access the sea, but maintains that circumstances must define its pursuit in accordance with the rule of law, which must be strictly followed.

Ethiopia signed a controversial deal with Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, that, if implemented, would allow the country to obtain 20 kilometers of the Red Sea for the construction of a military base and port.

In return, Ethiopia pledged to become the first country to recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country, a move that angered Somalia. Somalia has since excommunicated Ethiopia’s ambassador to the country, as well as closing consulates in Hargeisa and Garowe.

But Hassan Sheikh says Somalia has not denied Ethiopia access to the sea. Ethiopia is a landlocked nation and has struggled for decades to gain access to the sea. It has been using the port of Djibouti for cargo services.

“The question is how?” he asked during a speech on “Strengthening regional cooperation in the East African community” in Mogadishu.

“If Ethiopia wants access to the Somali Sea, we welcome that, but we want Ethiopia to have access in the same way that Uganda has access to the Kenyan Sea, in the same way that Burundi and Rwanda have access to the Tanzanian Sea… , and in the same way Ethiopia has access to the Djibouti Sea,” he stated.

“We will not accept anything beyond that,” he added. “Forget about deploying naval forces in Somalia and about having a naval base in Somalia.”

A source inside Ethiopia says the country has begun implementing the agreement and Somaliland has also confirmed progress. Somalia insists it will only agree to dialogue with Ethiopia once it backs out of the disputed deal.

GAROWE ONLINE

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