Somaliland arrests ex-minister for opposing sea deal with Ethiopia

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HARGEISA, Somalia - A former senior government minister has been arrested in the breakaway region of Somaliland, in what comes amid an increased crackdown against individuals opposing a recently signed deal with Ethiopia, which has been widely condemned.

Ahmed Mumin, a former regional minister of Agriculture in Somaliland, was arrested on Sunday in Hargeisa, following his remarks against the sea deal between President Muse Bihi Abdi and Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

Mumin joins a host of individuals including journalists who have been incarcerated after opposing the deal, and whose freedoms have been violated in the northern region of Somalia. Just like dozens of others, he's yet to be arraigned in court.

The Somali government described the MoU signed on 1st January in Addis Ababa as an act of aggression, raising concerns about the stability of the turbulent Horn of Africa region. Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) has called for an emergency meeting in Uganda to discuss the conflict.

Somaliland pledged to give Ethiopia 20 kilometers of the Red Sea in exchange for recognition as a sovereign state, but the deal has sparked criticism from several stakeholders, including violent protests in Somalia.

In an interview with the Observer, Somaliland’s foreign minister, Essa Kayd, said the port deal with Ethiopia will “legitimize our self-determination” and could spark a “domino effect” of other countries recognizing the territory, The Guardian reports.

“Recognition is what we have been fighting for all this time and it is the most important thing we can offer to the people of Somaliland,” Kayd said.

A Western diplomat briefed on the deal described it as a “memorandum of misunderstanding”. “Ethiopia insists they did not agree to recognize Somaliland,” the diplomat said.

Kayd said the deal is based on Ethiopia granting recognition to Somaliland: “Without that, nothing is going to happen.” He added that discussions had been progressing “for years”. “Ethiopia needs sea access and we need recognition, so you can see how these needs can be dealt with.”

Somaliland has been running a parallel government from that of Somalia but remains part of Mogadishu's territory. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud insists that his administration is ready for war with Ethiopia should Addis Ababa persist with her advances.

GAROWE ONLINE

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