AU appeals for calm in Ethiopia-Somalia row

In response to heightened regional tensions resulting from a contentious agreement between Ethiopia and the breakaway province of Somaliland, the African Union joined the United States on Thursday in urging calm throughout the Horn of Africa.

Following the agreement on Monday, Somalia said that it would protect its territory against what it saw to be Ethiopia’s neighbor’s “aggression” and “blatant assault” on its sovereignty.

The Memorandum of Understanding gives landlocked Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country, long-desired access to the Red Sea through Somaliland.

AU Commission chair, Moussa Mahamat, issued a statement appealing for “calm and mutual respect to de-escalate the simmering tension” between Ethiopia and Somalia.

He called on the two nations to engage in a negotiation process “without delay” to settle their differences.

Mahamat also urged them to “refrain from any action that unintentionally may lead to a deterioration of the good relations between the two neighbouring Eastern African countries.”

“He stresses the imperative to respect unity, territorial integrity and full sovereignty of all African Union member states,” the statement said.

Somaliland, a former British protectorate of about 4.5 million people, declared independence from Somalia in 1991, a move not recognised internationally and staunchly opposed by Mogadishu.

The US, on Wednesday, rejected international recognition for the separatist region and also called for talks to resolve the crisis.

“The United States recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia within its 1960 borders,” State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, told reporters.

“We join other partners in expressing our serious concern,” he said, “about the resulting spike in tensions in the Horn of Africa.”

“We urge all stakeholders to engage in diplomatic dialogue.”

The wide-ranging deal signed in Addis Ababa gives Ethiopia access to commercial maritime services and a military base, with Somaliland leasing 20 kilometres (12 miles) of coastline for 50 years.

Somaliland’s leader Muse Abdi has said that in exchange, Ethiopia would “fully recognise” Somaliland but this has not been confirmed by Addis Ababa.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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