Somalilanders’ sentiment remains high on port deal

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  • Mark 33rd ‘restoration of independence’

HARGEISA- Jubilant Somallanders who took to the street to celebrate the 33rd anniversary of the ‘restoration of independence’ cheered their port deal with Ethiopia.

Optimism among Somalilanders remains as fresh and as high as it was in the wake of the announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the utilization of sea access with Ethiopia. This year’s national day celebration, what Somaliland calls ‘restoration of independence’, came on the heels of the January 2024 pact inked between Addis Ababa and Hargeisa allowing Ethiopia to develop a port or have access to a sea outlet in the Gulf of Aden.

Shadia Mohamed Roble is a Somaliland national. She has been a journalist for five years. She served in BBC Somalia service and VoA as a reporter. “I received the MoU between Ethiopia and Somaliland with warm hearts. Public opinion has also been positive. I was able to chat with many people here in Hargeisa, and their reaction was positive.

Shadia, who now resides in Canada, said the accord will bring lofty dividends to both sides. Somalilanders feel excited that the neighboring side is forging strong bilateral ties with Ethiopia.

“Ethiopia has been there for us in the time of agony and suppression and it had been on our side during Mohamed Siad Barre’s repression. The people of Somaliland are celebrating the MoU and it is a great deal for both sides and the leaders worth admiration and recognition.”

According to the journalist, it is only the historical foes of Ethiopia and Somaliland that appear to be opposing the MoU. Some countries are green-eyed on the deal, for they do not want the prosperity of the two neighbors. “The partnership between Ethiopian and Somaliland will get momentum and the grand ambition will come to reality.”

“With or without the benediction of external parties, the accord according to me will see the day’s light,” Shadia opined confidently.

Abdirahman Habane is a lecturer at the University of Hargeisa and researcher at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. The academician highlighted that the reaction of Somaliland scholars toward the port deal has been positive and remains high. The pact is an action towards a better future. If managed well, it will lead toward prosperity for both sides. And, it is a positive gesture amidst the increasingly hostile situations in the Horn of Africa.

“Somaliland has the sole right to decide which countries it has to work with and what it has to do with its sea or land. And, many nations are collaborating with Somaliland. And, Ethiopia should be no different and such a deal must not come as a bombshell.”

The Horn region is rocked by terrorism and other violent acts, and any cooperation among entities in the region should be considered a positive move, the academician emphasized.

He appealed to people in academia to conduct research and write more articles to turn the agreement into implementation.

“We welcome the agreement and good benefits the deal might bring to both parties,” a street vendor commented on the issue to The Ethiopian Herald.

It was earned that both Ethiopia and Somaliland are working on wide ranges to translate the port deal into reality.