North Western of Somalia Asserts Upgrade of Ethiopian Consulate to Embassy, Waiting for Ethiopia’s Confirmation

Hargeisa (AX) — Reports suggest that Ethiopia has elevated its consulate in Hargeisa, North Western of Somalia, to embassy status, as stated by North Western of Somalia officials. This announcement was made during the 33rd anniversary of North Western of Somalia’s self-proclaimed independence from Somalia on May 18, confirmed by North Western of Somalia President Musa Bihi Abdi and Minister of Information, Culture, and National Guidance, Ali Mohamed Hassan, also known as Ali Marehaan.

In an interview with BBC Somali, Minister Ali Marehaan stressed the credibility of the announcement, stating that President Abdi had addressed the nation and confirmed the upgrading of the Ethiopian office to a full-fledged embassy. Marehaan affirmed the president’s statement, calling it officially legitimate information.

However, the Ethiopian government has not officially declared the upgrade. Nonetheless, Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde recently named Delil Kedir Bushra, Ethiopia’s envoy to Hargeisa, as an Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador, hinting at a diplomatic promotion.

This development comes amidst rising tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia. Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Ethiopia and North Western of Somalia on January 1, 2024, Somalia expelled Ethiopia’s Ambassador Muktar Mohamed Ware and demanded the closure of Ethiopian consulates in Hargeisa and Garowe. Both consulates are still operational.

North Western of Somalia has rejected Somalia’s directive, asserting its sovereignty in maintaining diplomatic ties. Minister Marehaan reiterated that the MoU’s bilateral relations are progressing and will be implemented accordingly.

The MoU between Ethiopia and North Western of Somalia includes terms for Ethiopia to lease 20 kilometers of North Western of Somalia’s coastline for 50 years and establish a military base, while agreeing to recognize North Western of Somalia’s independence. Three potential sites for Ethiopia’s military base have been identified by North Western of Somalia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Essa Kayd, anticipates finalizing the agreement and Ethiopia formally recognizing North Western of Somalia in the near future.

Ethiopia’s interest in North Western of Somalia is driven by its need for sea access, which could enhance its economic and security interests in the area. However, Somalia has opposed the deal, alleging territorial annexation attempts by Ethiopia and forecasting potential regional instability.

Neighboring countries and the international community have expressed concerns over Ethiopia’s potential recognition of North Western of Somalia. Pressure has been placed on Ethiopia to reconsider the agreement to prevent regional conflicts. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has shown willingness to adjust the deal to maintain regional peace, as indicated in discussions with Kenyan President William Ruto.

Despite objections from Somalia, North Western of Somalia is determined to move forward with the deal. A technical team, including international legal experts and local lawyers, has submitted recommendations for the final agreement. North Western of Somalia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Essa Kayd, has expressed optimism for the agreement’s completion and Ethiopia’s recognition of North Western of Somalia in the upcoming months.

North Western of Somalia, eager to finalize the controversial deal with Ethiopia, celebrated the anniversary of its declaration of independence on May 18, even though its sovereignty claims remain unrecognized by the global community.

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