The African Union, alongside the United States, has called for restraint in the Horn of Africa as tensions escalate due to a contentious agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland.
Following the pact signed on Monday, Somalia has pledged to protect its domain, labeling the deal as an act of “aggression” and a direct “blatant assault” on its sovereignty by Ethiopia.
The MoU grants Ethiopia, the continent’s second-largest nation by population and without its own coast, coveted access to the Red Sea via Somaliland.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chair of the AU Commission, has made a plea for “calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension” in the region between Ethiopia and Somalia.
He has implored both countries to promptly commence negotiations to resolve their disputes.
Furthermore, Faki has advised them to avoid any measures that could inadvertently worsen the amicable relations shared by these two neighboring countries in Eastern Africa.
“He stresses the imperative to respect unity, territorial integrity and full sovereignty of all African Union member states,” his statement emphasized.
Somaliland, which was once under British rule and is home to approximately 4.5 million people, proclaimed its independence from Somalia in 1991. This declaration has not received international recognition and is firmly contested by Mogadishu.
The United States has also declined to acknowledge the separatist region internationally and has advocated for discussions to address the ongoing situation.
“The United States recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia within its 1960 borders,” stated Matthew Miller, a spokesperson for the State Department.
He added, “We join other partners in expressing our serious concern,” regarding the recent surge in regional tensions.
“We urge all stakeholders to engage in diplomatic dialogue.”
The comprehensive agreement inked in Addis Ababa endows Ethiopia with access to commercial maritime services and a military installation, with Somaliland providing 20 kilometers of its coastline on a 50-year lease.
Muse Bihi Abdi, the leader of Somaliland, has claimed that Ethiopia would, in return, “fully recognise” Somaliland, although this has yet to be verified by Addis Ababa.