Protesters gathered in central Burao town, the capital of the Togdheer region, on Saturday to express their anger regarding the recent port deal between the Ethiopian government and the breakaway region of Somaliland.
The demonstrators shouted that Somalia’s land and sea were not for sale and expressed discontent against the president Muse Bihi Abdi, whose term is ending. The town where the demonstration took place is under Somaliland control.
Protests against the deal have been occurring in the country, including the capital, Mogadishu, since last Monday. The massive gathering in Mogadishu echoed with chants of “Death or victory” and “Somalia belongs to Somalis,” as protesters expressed outrage over what they viewed as Ethiopia’s encroachment on Somali sovereignty.
Monday’s agreement, signed in Addis Ababa by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi, would clear the way for Ethiopia to set up commercial marine operations giving it access to a leased military base on the Red Sea, Abiy’s National Security adviser Redwan Hussien said.
In an interview with state-owned media on Friday, Abiy’s National Security adviser stated that Ethiopia will recognize Somaliland after the port agreement is completed. In contrast, Somaliland authorities noted that the agreement would be implemented when Ethiopia announced the recognition.
Responding to the international community’s concerns, Ambassador Hussien said that Somaliland has already entered into similar agreements with other entities, such as the Berbera port in 2017.
The Somali government has labelled the deal as “an act of aggression against Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and a direct threat to its maritime resources, vowing to defend them.