Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and the President of Somaliland, Muse Bihe Abdi, have signed an MOU which secures Somaliland a stake in Ethiopia’s national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines.
Ethiopia will acquire a 19% stake in Somaliland’s Port of Berbera – giving it its long-desired access to the Red Sea.
“This document gives Ethiopia the opportunity to obtain a permanent and reliable naval base and commercial maritime service in the Gulf of Aden through a lease agreement, and, according to the government’s announced position, it allows Somaliland to derive an equivalent share of the lease from Ethiopian Airlines,” said the Ethiopian Government Communication Service.
The Ethiopian government has undertaken an in-depth assessment to establish a stance regarding Somaliland’s efforts towards gaining recognition from the UN.
Somaliland is a disputed territory on the northwestern coast of Somalia, with direct access to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It declared independence from Somalia in 1991 yet it remains an unrecognised state by the UN and AU.
Not only does Somaliland have a valuable port on the Red Sea that is suitable for commercial maritime services, but it also has two airports: Berbera Airport (BBO) (currently non-functional) and Hargeisa Airport (HGA).
According to simpleflying.com, Cirium data shows that HGA has 139 flights scheduled for January alone. Ethiopian operates the majority of these flights as it has two Addis Ababa-Hargeisa flights daily. Other airlines with flights to HGA include Air Djibouti, flydubai, Daallo Airlines, Kenn Borek Air, and Blue Sky Aviation.
But neighbouring state Somalia is far from happy about the entente cordiale between Somaliland and Ethiopia, as it still considers Somaliland a part of Somalia.
Somali President, Hassam Sheikh Mohamud immediately condemned the MOU and signed a law nullifying it, claiming that it was illegal and put Ethiopia in a position to infringe upon Somalia’s sovereignty and territory, reports simpleflying.com.