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Somalia sends back Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Addis, closes consulates in Puntland, Somaliland

Ambassador Muktar Mohamed Ware. Photo: Somali Civil Aviation Authority.

Addis Abeba – The government of Somalia asked Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Somalia Muktar Mohamed Ware to return back to Addis Abeba for consultation and closed Ethiopia’s consulate offices in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland, and in the semi-autonomous Puntland state.

Citing two sources Reuters reported that “Somalia sent back Ethiopian ambassador on Thursday, and closed two consulates in the semi autonomous region of Puntland and another in breakaway region Somaliland due to rising tensions over a port deal”

However, it is unclear in Mogadishu can force the closure of the two consulate offices in Somaliland and Puntland. A source close to the matter also told Addis Standard that Ambassador Muktar has not yet been officially informed about the decision. Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not issued official statement on the matter, nor is it clear if the decision is to declare Ambassador Muktar persona non grata.

Diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Somalia plummeted to a new low following the signing on 01 January of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and Somaliland, granting Ethiopia access to the sea for a leased military base in return for recognition for Somaliland.

Somalia said the MoU “violates its sovereignty and territorial integrity”. The move also generated several diplomatic statements from various countries pledging their support for Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Although further developments on the MoU front seemed to have subsided from both sides amidst news of diplomatic efforts to mediate, Ambassador Mesganu Arga, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, welcomed a senior ministerial delegation led by Puntland’s Minister of Finance, Mohammed Farah Mohammed, at his office on Wednesday. During their discussions, both delegations explored “collaborative opportunities in trade, investment, energy cooperation, and joint infrastructure projects to strengthen and expand the ties between the two regions.”

The meeting, which many see as provocative, came a few days after Puntland State said it was withdrawing its recognition of the federal government of Somalia as well as its recognition of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as legitimate. It followed Puntland’s criticism with Mogadishu’s decision to amend the federal constitution, which Puntland deemed illegitimate and non-inclusive. According to local media reports, Puntland stated it only recognizes the 2012 version of the constitution.

Puntland officials maintain regular contacts with senior members of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) to discuss cross-border security issues as well as security in the semi-autonomous state where Ethiopian troops are present. In August 2022, President Said Abdullahi Deni, and vice president, Ahmed Ilmi Osman Karash, met with high-ranking Ethiopia army officials and officials from the Ethiopian Consul in Puntland, at the Presidential Palace in Garowe.

They discussed cooperation between the two sides in terms of security, dealing with terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab, and how to have a unified plan on how to deal with any factor working against stability and security.

The Ethiopian Consulate General in Garowe said the discussion was about “security cooperation especially the fight against terrorism.” AS

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