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Ethiopia reportedly considering withdrawing from MoU with Somaliland

NY (SD) -Ethiopia is reportedly considering withdrawing its plans to recognize the breakaway government of Somaliland, due to international concerns over exacerbating regional tensions, as reported by sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Bloomberg News.

Landlocked Ethiopia, reached a landmark agreement with Somaliland in January, in exchange for 50 years of access to the Red Sea, marking the first-ever recognition of Somaliland’s self-declared independence.

The agreement has sparked support and opposition from neighboring countries, with Somalia stating it will defend its territorial integrity, with Egypt and other countries urging caution.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Kenya’s President William Ruto held talks in Nairobi last weekend, addressing the issue. Abiy indicated his commitment to withdraw the agreement’s key provisions to ease tensions with Somalia.

Ethiopian officials suggested that Somaliland’s recognition might be waived.

Ruto also discussed the matter during a meeting with Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh, who visited Kenya.

Ruto said in an interview with Bloomberg in January that his administration is trying to persuade Ethiopia to consider other options beyond its bid for a port, although it was not clear what those options are.

Ethiopia has not officially rescinded its agreement with Somaliland, with Abiy still intent on achieving his goal of gaining a foothold in the Red Sea as described by his aides.

Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 following a civil war, subsequently pursuing international recognition. The agreement with Ethiopia is seen as a significant step in that direction.

Neighboring countries and some of Ethiopia’s largest aid donors have expressed concern that the agreement – which Somalia considers a violation of its sovereignty – could ignite conflict in a region that has long struggled with instability.

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