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Somalia expels Ethiopian ambassador, closes consulates amid port deal controversy

Thursday April 4, 2024

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia has expelled the Ethiopian ambassador and shuttered its consulates in the Puntland and Somaliland regions on Thursday, a day after Ethiopia's State Minister for Foreign Affairs discussed a bilateral issue with a delegation from Puntland in Addis Ababa.

In a statement, the Council of Ministers accused the Ethiopian government of interfering in Somalia's internal affairs.

Ethiopia's State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mesganu Arga, met with a delegation from Puntland, led by its Finance Minister, Mohammed Farah Mohammed, in Addis Ababa on Wednesday. They discussed collaborative opportunities in trade, investment, energy cooperation, and joint infrastructure projects to bolster and broaden the two sides' ties.

Last Saturday, Puntland announced that it withdrew its recognition of Somalia's federal Government in Mogadishu after Somalia's bicameral parliament ratified plans to amend Somalia's constitution.

Officials from Somalia confirmed these actions directly responded to Ethiopia's involvement in a lease agreement for coastal land in the disputed Somaliland territory.

Ethiopia's foreign ministry spokesperson Nebiyu Tedla said it did not have information on the matter.

Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding on January 1 to lease a 20-kilometer stretch of Somaliland's coastline. However, Somalia, which claims sovereignty over the region, has faced stern opposition. The deal, which includes Ethiopia's intention to establish a naval base and hints at recognizing Somaliland's autonomy, has sparked fears of increased instability in the Horn of Africa.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has denounced the agreement as illegal, warning of defensive measures should Ethiopia proceed. The expulsion of the Ethiopian ambassador and the consulate closures signal a deepening rift, with potential implications for the 3,000 Ethiopian troops in Somalia under the African Union's peacekeeping mission.

Read below the statement from the Somali cabinet of ministers.

  1. As of April 4, 2024, the Federal Government of Somalia has decided to close and revoke the operating permission of the Ethiopian Consulates in the cities of Garowe and Hargeisa. These two consulates must be closed within a week.
  2. Diplomats and employees of the Ethiopian government working in the aforementioned cities must depart the country within the stipulated week.
  3. Non-compliance with this resolution by Ethiopian Government diplomats will be deemed a violation government's sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Somalia, and further measures will be taken against them in accordance with international diplomatic protocols.
  4. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somalia is tasked with officially communicating this resolution to the Ethiopian government and notifying the Ethiopian government of the Federal Republic of Somalia to return to his country for a consultation.
  5. This resolution will be effective upon approval by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Federal Republic of Somalia and upon being signed by the Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Somalia.


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