We will not accept Ethiopia naval base in Somalia, Govt insists

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Federal Government of Somalia insists it will not accept an Ethiopian naval base along the Red Sea even after an agreement between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland, which has been at loggerheads with Mogadishu for some time.

Ali Omar, the state minister for Foreign Affairs, said the country will only consider granting Ethiopia commercial access to the Port without necessarily ceding 20 kilometers of land to Ethiopia for the construction of a military base and port within Somalia.

Ethiopia signed the controversial agreement on the pretext that it would recognize Somaliland as a country. Somaliland is still part of Somalia despite breaking away in 1991, and attempts to reconcile it with Mogadishu have spectacularly failed.

To defuse the acrimony, Reuters reports, Kenya in consultation with Djibouti and the Eastern African bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has proposed a maritime treaty to govern how landlocked states in the region can access ports on commercial terms, a senior Kenyan official said on Thursday.

Before discussing port access bilaterally, Ethiopia must annul its agreement with Somaliland, Somalia's state minister for foreign affairs Ali Omar told Reuters.

"Somalia will never accept (a) naval base," Omar said. "Somalia is ready for commercial access under the international law of the sea."
He added that Somalia was willing to discuss proposals so long as they meet the country's interests which are to "safeguard (our) sovereignty, political independence and unity".

A spokesperson for Ethiopia's foreign ministry declined to comment. But Kenya has since disowned the reports, insisting that Nairobi will only recognize Somalia as a sovereign country whose territorial integrity is intact.

"Complete misapprehension of our view and position on this matter. Our unambiguous position on this question is respect for the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic Somalia," Korir Singoei, the Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.

GAROWE ONLINE

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