Ethiopia clarifies intention towards Somaliland
Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, paid a two-day visit to Ethiopia beginning May 3 upon the invitation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. In discussions they later held, the two leaders agreed to closely work together towards elimination of the Al-Shabaab terrorist group from Somali soil within two years.
During a joint press conference held at the National Palace, Hailemariam said that Ethiopia is ready to support Somalia to enable it take over the responsibility of securing the country from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), AU’s regional peacekeeping force in Somalia.
The premier also noted that his government always respected “the territorial integrity of the Somalia republic”. Replying to a question put to him from a Somali journalist, Hailemariam denied any intent by his government to bestow recognition on Somaliland.
He further pointed out that, “Ethiopia has never had any official relations with Somaliland. We always do that with the consent of the federal government in Mogadishu.”
On his part, President “Farmajo” noted that Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab has been around for the last ten years “causing havoc and destruction”.
“It’s a threat not only to Somalia but to the whole region,” he said, and appreciated the support by Ethiopia, Kenya and other countries contributing troops to AMISOM.
He also stated that in collaboration with Ethiopia, his government has already prepared a comprehensive strategy to fight and eliminate Al-Shabaab.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian prime minister assured the Somali president that, as chairperson of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), he would work to make the forthcoming London conference on Somalia a success.
He also talked about the need for international efforts to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia caused by severe drought.
Meles Alem, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the visit would open a new chapter in the relationship between the two nations.
The two leaders also agreed to implement previous agreements reached between the two countries and are looking for economic integration and the free movement of goods and people. In this regard, an agreement was reached to set up a joint ministerial commission that would work on finding areas of cooperation in the political and economic spheres.
Meanwhile, the Somali president expressed interest in engaging the Ethiopian government with a view to amicably resolving boundary issues between the two neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa.