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Somalia rejects UAE’s port deal with Ethiopia, Somaliland

Hassan Ali, Somalia’s prime minister [FlickR]
Hassan Ali, Somalia’s prime minister [FlickR]

The federal government of Somalia has rejected a United Arab Emirates (UAE) logistics company port deal, claiming that it undermines its unity, sovereignty and is a violation of its constitution, Africa News reported yesterday.

The tripartite agreements over Berbera port were declared “null and void” by Somalia. The Ministry of Ports and Marine Transport clarified that Somalia was not involved in the agreement.

Ethiopia holds 19 per cent of the Berbera port, in an agreement with Somaliland’s Port Authority and UAE Company DP World. DP World remains the major share owner; with a 51 per cent stake, while Somaliland holds 30 per cent. The Ethiopian government will invest in infrastructural development for the Berbera port.

But Somaliland refuted Somalia’s position that the agreement between Ethiopia and DP World is “void”.

“The present agreement is nothing new,” Muse Bihi Abdi, president of Somaliland said in a statement on Saturday. “It is an extension of the agreement entered into between the Republic of Somaliland and DP World and approved by the Parliament.”

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Hassan Ali, Somalia’s prime minister, told The National that foreign investment is welcome, but it must be endorsed and consulted with the federal government of Somalia.

Back in 2016, Somaliland’s parliament officially approved a partnership deal with DP World, allowing the largest port operator to invest some $422 to regenerate Berbera port. The move created jobs, investment and contributed to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The port is the commercial capital for Somaliland, which officially opened in 1968. It is located in Somaliland which is recognised by the international community as an autonomous state of Somalia.

Somalia’s relations with the UAE have been unsettled since June last year. It was pressured to support one of two camps, the UAE and Saudi Arabia or Qatar, after the Arab states were vying for geo-political support.

The pressure began after the UAE and Saudi Arabia levied a blockade against Qatar over terrorism funding accusations. Qatar categorically denied the allegation as baseless, but placed Somalia in a difficult position as both sides have supported Somalia throughout the years.

Somalia, initially supported Qatar, but officially decided to ally with the UAE and Saudi Arabia in September last year.

This latest incident may trigger tensions with the UAE.


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