Ethiopia’s political parties on Thursday unanimously supported the country’s maritime access deal with Somalia’s breakaway province of Somaliland.
The Ethiopian Political Parties Joint Council (EPPJC), in a statement late Wednesday, said it unanimously supports the memorandum of understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland, following a review during its general assembly in Addis Ababa.
The council said it has discussed the framework of the agreement, detailed content, and the opportunities and threats associated with the agreement, and “we confirmed our unanimous support for the agreement.”
The council called on the government, political parties, and the general public in the Horn of Africa country to play a positive role in implementing the agreement with Somaliland.
Ethiopia has been working to strengthen its relationship with the Horn of Africa countries to ensure that over 120 million citizens have access to the sea.
Somalia has rejected Ethiopia’s Red Sea port deal with Somaliland, calling it “illegitimate,” a threat to good neighborliness, and a violation of its sovereignty. It also recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia after the deal was signed on Jan. 1.
The Ethiopian government has defended its decision to sign the deal and said the agreement with Somaliland “will affect no party or country.”
The deal allows Ethiopia to obtain a permanent and reliable naval base and commercial maritime service in the Gulf of Aden.
Ethiopia lost its Red Sea ports in the early 1990s after the Eritrean War of Independence, which lasted from 1961 to 1991.
In 1991, Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia, leading to the establishment of two separate nations.
The separation resulted in Ethiopia losing direct access to the Red Sea and key ports.