IGAD Meeting: Leaders Call For Respect Of Somalia’s Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity

IGAD Meeting: Leaders Call For Respect Of Somalia’s Sovereignty, Territorial Integrity

By Spy Uganda

Kampala: Heads of state of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) have urged respect for Somalia’s sovereignty amid a controversial sea access deal that Somaliland signed with Ethiopia on January 1.

IGAD presidents met at a summit in Entebbe, Uganda on Thursday, where they discussed the Somalia-Ethiopia row and the Sudanese war.

The heads of state said they were “deeply concerned by the recent developments regarding the relation between Ethiopia and Somalia.”

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The regional bloc said it was reaffirming “the cardinal principles of respect for the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Somalia.”

“… any engagement should uphold the above cardinal principles, and any agreement or arrangement should be with the consent of Somalia,” IGAD said in a statement after the 42nd extraordinary summit of heads of state and government.

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The presidents urged Ethiopia and Somalia to de-escalate tensions and instead engage in “constructive dialogue.”

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed did not attend the summit. His Somalia counterpart, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, attended the meeting hosted by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni at State House, Entebbe.

The meeting was also attended by Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who is also the chairperson of IGAD heads of state, Kenya’s William Ruto, South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, among others.

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The IGAD member states are Eritrea, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

On January 1, Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed and the leader of Somaliland Muse Bihi entered into an agreement in Addis Ababa to allow Ethiopia, a landlocked country, access the Red Sea port of Berbera.

As part of the deal, Somaliland plans to lease a 20-kilometre stretch of land along its coastline to Ethiopia to establish a marine force base. Somaliland, on the other hand, was promised recognition by Ethiopia.

Ethiopia currently relies on the neighboring Djibouti for most of its maritime trade. Ethiopia initially had a coastline along the Red Sea, but after Eritrea seceded in 1993, Ethiopia lost the port.

Somalia rejected the deal signed by Ethiopia and Somaliland, terming it an “aggression”, and that the federal government did not authorize Somaliland to sign such an agreement.

According to the international law, Somaliland, which is home to about 4.5 million people, is geographically part of the Federal Republic of Somalia. It is located to the north of Somalia in the Horn of Africa region.

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