Bound by blood, Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed says of Somalia

Tuesday February 06 2024
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (C). PHOTO | MICHAEL TEWELDE | XINHUA


Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday said he has no intention of going to war with Somalia, even though the re-emphasized his country’s desire to have unfettered sea access.

In an address to parliament, Abiy responded to recent concerns of tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia, after Addis Ababa signed a controversial MoU with Somaliland on sea access.

He said Somalia and Ethiopia were “bound by blood” and he argued conflict in either country affects the other because of those historical ties. Yet, he said his country desires access to the sea.

Read: Ethiopia’s quest for sea access rattles Eritrea

“Ethiopia does not acknowledge war against any country in principle. However, some forces are trying to incite conflict between the two nations, which should not happen,” he told the 14th Regular Session of the House of Representatives in Addis Ababa, an event streamed live on Youtube.

“Our request is for sea access based on mutual benefit. This is useful not only for Ethiopia but also for regional cooperation.”


The offer for peace, while insisting on sea access, may, however, not soothe Somalia which declared no dialogue as long as the MoU is not withdrawn. On January 1, Ethiopia signed the MoU with Somaliland, the breakaway region of Somalia. Somaliland had declared own independence in 1991 but has never been recognised by another sovereign state.

The MoU said Somaliland will grant Ethiopia access to the sea as well as lease land for a naval base for the next 50 years. In exchange, Ethiopia would recognise Somaliland.

Mogadishu, meanwhile, rejected the MoU and the federal parliament declared it null and void.

On Tuesday, Abiy said the relationship between the two countries have been cemented on the sacrifices Ethiopians made for Somalia.

Read: Somalia denies airspace to Ethiopian plane

“No country has paid as much as Ethiopia for peace of Somalia,” he said.

“This is because the peace of Somalia is the peace of Ethiopia.” Ethiopia has troops in Somalia under the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (Atmis) as well as under a bilateral arrangement.

But the countries have gone to war in the past. The new tensions have seen various stakeholders including the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) call for dialogue and de-escalation. Others like the US, China, Turkey and the European Union opposed the MoU as a threat on Somali sovereignty.