Somalia Rejects AU Mediation with Ethiopia

Somalia Rejects AU Mediation with Ethiopia


What’s Happening

Somalia has rejected attempts by the African Union to mediate the crisis between Ethiopia and Somalia over the Ethiopia-Somaliland ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. Somalia’s foreign ministry released a statement saying that, while they appreciate the AU’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its member states, there is “no room for mediation unless Ethiopia corrects this by retracting the illegal MOU”.

The Somali statement came after the African Union Peace and Security Commission called on Ethiopia and Somalia “to exercise restraint, de-escalate and engage in meaningful dialogue towards finding a peaceful resolution of the matter”.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African trade-bloc (of which both Somalia and Ethiopia are members), held a meeting on the 18th in order to discuss both the Somalia-Ethiopia issue, as well as on the war in Sudan (Sudan is also technically a member, however on the 16th suspended cooperation with IGAD). Similar to the AU’s position, IGAD has expressed concern over the issue and urged for the respect of Somalia’s sovereignty, calling upon both nations to “de-escalate tensions and instead engage in constructive dialogue”.

A Memorandum of Understanding

The deal in question was signed between Ethiopia and the breakaway government of Somaliland on January 1st. The ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ will see Ethiopia gain access to the Somaliland port of Berbera. In exchange for access to 20km of coastline, and thus access for Ethiopia to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, Ethiopia has stated they will recognize Somaliland’s independence, and establish official diplomatic ties.

If Ethiopia recognizes Somaliland’s independence, it will be the first state to have done so. Ethiopia has long maintained unofficial diplomatic ties with Somaliland, however the establishment of official ties would provide a sense of legitimacy to Somaliland.

Though Somaliland has largely operated independently since 1991, it has gone unrecognized on the international stage. The borders are based upon former colonial borders, with Somaliland being a previous British colony, and Somalia itself being a former Italian colony. The African Union official policy opposes border shifts to colonial borders, meaning it opposes Somaliland’s independence.

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray is a published journalist and historicist with over 5 years experience in writing. His primary focus is on East and West African affairs.
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