Somaliland minister quits over port deal with Ethiopia

SOMALILAND,Hargeisa:  The defence minister of the self-declared republic of Somaliland has resigned in protest against a deal granting Ethiopia access to a seaport in the breakaway region of Somalia.

Abdiqani Mohamoud Ateye criticised Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi “for not consulting the council of ministers on the port deal with Ethiopia”, saying they “heard about it from the media”.

Mr Ateye hails from Somaliland’s Awdal region, where Ethiopia reportedly wants to set up its military base in the coastal town of Lughaya.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) reportedly gives landlocked Ethiopia access to the Red Sea in exchange for it recognising Somaliland as an independent state.

Somalia has termed the deal an act of “aggression” and recalled its ambassador to Addis Ababa.

There are reports that Ethiopia’s ambassador to Somalia has also returned to Addis Ababa amid a diplomatic row between the two countries.

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