Alemu stressed that the negotiations and signing of the Somaliland MoU were under the PM’s supervision and would continue to be managed similarly

Alemu SIme (PhD), Minister of Transport and Logistics, informed Parliament about Ethiopia’s ongoing pursuit of the sea access agreement with Somaliland while reports have emerged of Somalia requesting a complete withdrawal of Ethiopian peacekeeping forces.

“The agreement with Somaliland falls outside our jurisdiction,” Alemu conveyed to MPs, highlighting that the negotiations and signing were led by Prime Minister Abiy and continue to be managed in a similar vein. He emphasized that port access encompasses more than just loading and unloading cargo.


This statement was made during the presentation of a nine-month progress report to the House of Peoples’ Representatives on June 4, 2024. Alemu opted not to delve deeper into the developments surrounding the historic agreement signed earlier in January.

Nevertheless, Alemu stressed that the principle of mutual benefit drives Ethiopia’s endeavors to utilize neighboring ports.

“We aim to leverage all neighboring ports for our advantage. Our interest extends to Assab and Port Sudan for the northwestern parts of Ethiopia. Collaboration with all neighboring countries is our objective, expecting mutual gains,” he remarked.

The Economic Implications Of Somaliland-Ethiopia MoU
President of the Republic of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi (right) and the Prime Minister of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed (left) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where Ethiopia officially recognizes the Republic of Somaliland while Somaliland grants naval and commercial sea access on lease to Ethiopia for 50 years. © X/ Office of the President of Somaliland

The MoU with Somaliland suggests Ethiopia be granted a 20-kilometer coastal stretch in return for acknowledging statehood and acquiring stakes in state-owned enterprises like Ethiopian Airlines. Mogadishu has strongly opposed this deal since its inception.

Recent international reports indicate Somalia plans to remove Ethiopian peacekeeping forces within a six-month period.

These reports emerged following Hussein Sheikh-Ali, Somalia’s national security advisor, stating on June 1, 2024, “As long as Ethiopia continues violating our sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence, we cannot view them as an ally for peace and security in the region.” This was accompanied by statements indicating Somalia’s stance on Ethiopian troops’ role in post-ATMIS operations.

ATMIS, a revamped version of AMISOM, is scheduled for gradual phasing out by late 2024, with troop withdrawals already in progress. Discussions are in progress to design a new peacekeeping mission post-ATMIS within Somalia.

Despite concerns by Ugandan and Kenyan leaders about potential Al-Shabaab resurgence post-ATMIS, Somalia’s government appears unyielding on Ethiopian troop participation in the next phase of peacekeeping efforts.

In a surprising development, Somalia’s federal government has softened its stance towards Ethiopian troop presence post-ATMIS, seeking Tanzania’s intervention to facilitate constructive discussions with Ethiopia concerning the troop drawdown.

Somalia To Expel Ethiopian Troops Unless Somaliland Port Deal Canceled, Senior Official Warns
Ethiopian and Somali government soldiers line-up before embarking on a joint patrol in areas southeast of Dusamareeb, March 19, 2014, as they prepare an offensive advance against al Shabaab militants, who have retreated into the central areas of Somalia. REUTERS/Feisal Omar/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

The letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs implies a willingness for Addis Ababa’s involvement in post-ATMIS operations as part of AU or non-AU forces. Somalia aims to eradicate Al-Shabaab completely by year-end.

The leaked correspondence emphasizes Somalia’s commitment to engaging in dialogue with Ethiopia, highlighting Tanzania’s role in mediating this crucial process.

The decision to withdraw ATMIS troops from Ethiopia attracted criticism in December, particularly from officials in Jubaland and Southwest states where Ethiopian forces have assisted in combating Al-Shabaab. Ethiopia remains a significant partner in Somalia’s security and development efforts.