The African Union (AU) and the United States have issued appeals for calm in the Horn of Africa as tensions rise following a contentious agreement between Ethiopia and the seceded Somaliland region. The disputed pact, signed on Monday, has led to heightened tensions, with Somalia describing it as an “aggression” and a violation of its autonomy by Ethiopia.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) allows landlocked Ethiopia, the second-most populous nation in Africa, access to the Red Sea through Somaliland, a move that has raised concerns in the region. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, released a statement urging “calm and mutual respect” to diffuse the growing tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia.
Faki called on both nations to engage in prompt dialogue to resolve their differences and advised against any actions that could further strain relations. He emphasized the crucial need to uphold the unity, territorial integrity, and full sovereignty of all African Union member states.
Somaliland, which declared independence in 1991 but is not internationally recognized and is opposed by Mogadishu, offered Ethiopia access to commercial maritime services and a military base in exchange for a 50-year lease of 20 kilometers of coastline.
The U.S., aligning with similar sentiments, rejected international recognition for Somaliland and called for diplomatic talks to de-escalate the crisis. The State Department emphasized support for Somalia’s sovereignty within its 1960 borders.
“We join other partners in expressing our serious concern about the resulting spike in tensions in the Horn of Africa,” said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. “We urge all stakeholders to engage in diplomatic dialogue.”