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Somaliland and Puntland dismiss federal government's order to close Ethiopian consulates

Friday April 5, 2024

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somaliland's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Roda Elmi, and Puntland State Information Minister Mahmud Aydid Dirir have dismissed Somalia's federal government order to close the Ethiopian Consulates General in Hargeisa and Garowe, the capital cities of Somaliland and Puntland.

Somalia has expelled the Ethiopian ambassador from the country and ordered the closure of two consulates, accusing Ethiopia of infringing on Somalia's "sovereignty and internal affairs."

In an interview with VOA Somali, Ambassador Roda said the federal government's decision was based on a "daydream" and is "irrelevant."

"That decision does not concern us. If we are the government of Somaliland, it is not something that affects us. We are two independent countries, so that is not our responsibility," said Roda.

She added that when the Ethiopian consulate was opened in Hargeisa, it was not planned by the Somali government, and now that decision cannot pass the meeting of the Somali Cabinet of Ministers.

Similarly, Mahmud Aydid stated that the federal government of Somalia has "no jurisdiction" to close Ethiopia's Consulate in Garowe.

A press release from the Presidency of the Puntland administration on Thursday night also stated that the Puntland regional State and the Federal Government of Ethiopia have a long-standing relationship and deep cooperation, encompassing culture, economy, security, and social mobility.

"The decision issued in Mogadishu on April 4, 2024, was not made in the best interests of the Somali nation. It appears to be driven by hostility, animosity, and harassment against the people of Puntland, aiming to undermine Somalia's federalization," said the press release from the Puntland Presidency.

The expulsion comes a day after 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. They discussed collaborative opportunities in trade, investment, energy cooperation, and joint infrastructure projects to bolster and broaden the two sides' ties.

The expulsion also highlights an escalation in diplomatic tensions in the region following landlocked Ethiopia's port deal with the self-declared republic of Somaliland earlier this year.

In January, Ethiopia signed a deal with Somaliland to lease a 20km (12 miles) strip of coastline so it could build a navy base.

In exchange, Ethiopia reportedly told Somaliland it would offer it possible recognition in the future - which angered Somalia.

The Somali government denounced the agreement as illegal, warning against interfering in internal affairs.

Somaliland seceded from Somalia more than 30 years ago but is not recognized by the African Union (AU) or the UN as an independent state.


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