AU summit: Somalia accuses arch-rival Ethiopia of seeking to annex Somaliland

Somalia’s president has used the African Union (AU) summit in Addis Ababa to accuse Ethiopia of trying to annex part of his country’s territory by signing a sea access deal with the breakaway region of Somaliland, a territory that Somalia claims as its own.
Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland signed the deal last month, leasing Addis Ababa the land for 50 years to build a port and a naval base. As he arrived for the AU summit, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told reporters that “Somalia categorically objects to” the deal signed on 1 January, which is “nothing more than annexing part of Somalia to Ethiopia, and changing the borders of Somalia.” Mohamud also said Ethiopian security forces tried to block his access to the summit taking place in Addis Ababa amid a dispute between the two countries.
Neither side has made the terms of the deal public, but it appears to grant Ethiopia the right to build a naval base with access to Somaliland’s Berbera port for commercial marine operations — all of this in exchange for Somaliland’s recognition. Somaliland — a former British protectorate — has enjoyed de facto independence for three decades, but Somalia considers the self-governing region and its four million people to be a part of its northern territory. While Somaliland is largely stable, Somalia has witnessed decades of civil war and an Islamist insurgency by the Al-Shabab militant group. Somalia has also suggested it would be prepared to go to war to stop Ethiopia from building a port in Somaliland.