Somalilandsun. A top Ethiopian government delegation is Hargiesa on an impromptu visit to Somaliland
The team led by Finance Minister Ahmed Shide and other yet to be identified ministerial colleagues landed at the Egal international airport in Hargeisa at noon this Wednesday day of 19th February 2020.
Due to the secrecy surrounding this visit it is believed that the Ethiopian delegation was dispatched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for purposes of ameliorating Somaliland authorities and citizens on the proposed visit of Somalia President Mohamed Abdilahi Farmajo to Hargeisa.
The now seemingly Ill fated proposed visit to Hargeisa by President Farmajo appears to have been mooted in Addis Ababa during a meeting between the Somalia head of state and his Somaliland counterpart at PM Abiy’s.
The visit of the Ethiopian top team to Hargeisa also came a day after President Muse Bibi Abdi informed, candidly, that the Farmajo visit will never happen unless Somalia acknowledged the sovereignty of his country.
This strong sentiments were made during the President Bihi annual state of the nation address to a joint parliamentary session in Hargeisa on the 18th February this year.
On the issue of the meeting with President Farmajo in Addis Ababa which has generated much debate in the country mostly anti, President Bihi said
Quote- ‘On February 11, 2020, I was invited by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed his office to. After usual welcome and brief meeting, he told me that the President of Somalia will enter the Office shortly thereafter. From there began a sudden triangular, unplanned meeting between the three of us.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister proposed to intervene in the crisis between the Republic of Somaliland and Somalia, as it is an issue in the Horn of Africa region, and the Prime Minister is advocating for peace, development and regional cooperation within the region.
Of course, the request to mediate from the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, a Noble Peace Prize winner, who also leads the second most populous country in Africa, was accepted with agreement that finer details and agendas shall be ironed out at a later date and that was the end of the three pronged Somaliland, Somalia and Ethiopia meeting. Unquote
The Ethiopian Premiere whose Nobel peace prize was awarded courtesy of his country’s reconciliation with Eritrea after a lengthily armed conflict is known to be obsessed with harmonizing the Horn of Africa region be it politically., Economically as well as Security.
It is therefore now wonder that he was quick to dispatch a top delegation from his headquarters in Addis Ababa for purposes of trying to soften Somaliland officials on the matter of a Somalia President Farmajo visit to Somaliland and ofcourse under his, PM Abiy’s Tow.
Noteworthy to mention is that Somaliland withdrew from its 1960 voluntary later turned fatefull union with Somalia three decades ago and subsequent relations have been unfriendly because authorities in Mogadishu have refused to accept this fact while those in Hargiesa are categorical that Thier country’s sovereignty is neither negotiable nor revocable.
This standoff seen as a powder keg in the turbulent horn region led to the UK and other international partners organising reconciliation talks mostly hosted by Turkey but now stalled due to failure of Somalia authorities implementing any agreements reached during numerous phases of talks.
While this is not the first high powered Ethiopian government delegation to visit Somaliland on official working tours it is the first shrouded in secrecy from the neighbouring country that enjoys cordial relations with Somaliland dispute it’s non recognition internationally as a sovereign nation.
The two neighbouring countries have signed numerous MOUs relating to security cooperation, Trade and cross border movement among many and not forgetting that landlocked Ethiopia owns a sizeable chunk of shares in $422m Berbera port management and development contract held by UAEs DP World.
While PM Abiy is certainly an acclaimed regional peacemaker his immediate post Presidents Bihi and Farmajo meet visit to the UAE for top level discussions is believed to have been related to the now seemingly dead outcome of the three pronged Somaliland, Ethiopia and Somalia meet in his offices.
In the meantime it shall Suffice to play the wait and see game as per this Ethiopian Government impromptu visit to the Somaliland capital Hargeisa where local authorities are yet to acknowledge their presence or agenda officially by the time of going to press.