Somalis protest against Ethiopia-Somaliland dealWed, 03 Jan 2024 13:07:39 GMT

Hundreds of people joined a demonstration in Somalia on Wednesday in protest at a deal between Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland that Mogadishu has denounced as a violation of its sovereignty.The Somali government on Tuesday vowed to defend its territory “by any legal means possible” after Somaliland agreed to give landlocked Ethiopia access to its Red Sea coast.Somaliland, a former British protectorate of about 4.5 million people, has been seeking full statehood since claiming independence from Somalia in 1991.But the move has not been recognised internationally and is fiercely opposed by Mogadishu.”People gathered here today… to protest the aggression against their country and protect it from the enemy,” Mogadishu mayor Yusuf Hussein Jimale told a rally at a stadium in the Somali capital.”These people feel that their unity has been violated,” he added. “They feel that part of their land is to be looted and they have gathered here to reject that aggressive ambition.”The demonstrators, most of them students, chanted slogans against Somaliland president Muse Bihi Abdi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed who signed the controversial memorandum of understanding in Addis Ababa on Monday.”Somalia will fight with whatever means and win against the aggression of the Ethiopian government,” said one protester, Mohamed Nur Adan.Among international players, East Africa regional grouping IGAD has voiced its “deep concern” about the developments, while the European Union has insisted Somalia’s sovereignty should be respected.Somaliland has said that in return for leasing Ethiopia 20 kilometres (12 miles) of land along the coast for 50 years, Addis Ababa would formally recognise Somaliland.But this has not been confirmed by the Ethiopian government.