Somalia expels Ethiopian ambassador amidst dispute

Somalia has announced the expulsion of Ethiopia’s ambassador from the country amid rising tensions over a port deal dispute in the breakaway region of Somaliland. Ethiopian Ambassador Mukhtar Mohamed was sent home for consultations, the office of Somalia’s prime minister said on Thursday.

Mogadishu is also shutting down Ethiopia’s consulates in Hargeisa, the largest city and capital of Somaliland, and Garowe, the capital city of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, said the expulsion was a major diplomatic escalation.

The dispute arose after landlocked Ethiopia agreed on a memorandum of understanding on January 1 to lease 20km (12 miles) of coastline in Somaliland. Under the deal, the coastland around the port of Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden, will be used by Ethiopia for 50 years for military and commercial purposes.

Ethiopia said it wanted to set up a naval base there and offered possible recognition of Somaliland in exchange, prompting defiance and anger from Somalia – which accused Ethiopia of trying to annex part of its territory.



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