Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn declared bi-partisan support for Somaliland in the case of military action against the threat from neighboring Somalia and other external militants such as al Shabab.
The Prime Minister delivered the keynote speech this weekend in the Ethiopian Parliament in front of Ethiopian legislators.
Mr. Desalegn specified that Ethiopia is ready to provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to Somaliland “should they need it”.
He underlined the long bilateral relationship between the two Horn of African states saying Somaliland and Ethiopia cooperate on many fields including security, economy and education.
He told the Ethiopian lawmakers that he recently dispatched more than a dozen directors and chairman to Somaliland as a part of a high-level technical committee that will study ways to enhance relations. He said he wants to expand existing ties to reflect on the modern geopolitics of the region.
The Prime Minister hopes the two sides will soon sign an official bilateral strategic cooperation agreement. The technical committee has been doing its studies for the past three years. Last year the gathering was held in the Ethiopian chartered city of Dire Dawa and this year in the Somaliland capital Hargeisa.
“Somaliland is a friend and a key strategic ally for Ethiopia. We will spare no expense to defend and protect Somaliland. We are ready to extend an arm of support to our Somaliland brothers every time they are in need of one,” he told the Parliamentarians.
He said that the Ethiopian armed forces were ready to fight along side those from Somaliland and offer them technical support as well as training. He said he was wary of militants from Somalia who are spurring out off that country due to military pressure from the African Union troops (AMISOM).
He did not specify if Ethiopia would support Somaliland forces against armed forces from from Somalia but he has indicated Addis Ababa will spare no expense to ensure the existence of Somaliland. He strongly emphasized that his government will standby Somaliland against any threat from “any direction”.
This is the first time one of the key nations in East Africa has openly offered its direct support for Somaliland since ending its bitter marriage with Somalia two decades ago.
The keynote speech by Mr. Desalgn comes during time when there is diplomatic rift between Hargeisa and the internationally recognized but powerless government in Mogadishu.
Equally it coincides with Somaliland’s 22nd anniversary of Independence from the rest of Somali Republic.
His message has received overwhelming support throughout Somaliland and residents have welcomed PM Desalegn’s strong support. Somalilanders consider Ethiopia the closest ally and their ties traces back to more than 300 years.
It was just weeks ago when Prime Minister Desalegn received the Somaliland President Ahmed Silanyo at his official residence in Addis Ababa.
The two heads of State concurred on the enhancement of security, education and commercial ties.
“Somaliland and Ethiopia share cordial relations of which we are determined to not only sustain but enhance as well,” President Silanyo told Somaliland and Ethiopian reporters.
On his part, Prime Minister Hailemariam, expressed Ethiopia’s interest in fostering stronger relations with Somaliland based on mutual benefit.
He said “Ethiopia is ready to further bolster its relations with Somaliland administration in the areas of trade, education, capacity building and port services.”
He also underscored that Ethiopia will extend support to Somaliland in order to ensure that Al-Shabaab forces who are fleeing from Somalia will not pose a threat to Somaliland.
Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, firstname.lastname@example.org