Somaliland government stands firm in the face of Somalia’s undiplomatic dispute over its diplomatic ties with Ethiopia

Amid escalating tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia, the Somaliland government has firmly rejected Somalia’s warning to close the Ethiopian Embassy in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

Somalia on Thursday told the Ethiopian ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours and recalled its envoy to Addis Ababa, accusing Ethiopia of interfering in its internal affairs. It also ordered the shutdown of Ethiopia’s consulates in the Republic of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland within seven days.


Somalia is fiercely at odds with Ethiopia over a deal signed by Addis Ababa with Somaliland in January, giving the landlocked country long-desired access to the sea, and branding it “illegal” and a violation of its sovereignty. Under the memorandum of understanding, Somaliland agreed to lease 20 kilometers (12 miles) of its coast for 50 years to Ethiopia, which wants to set up a naval base on the coast. In return, Ethiopia would give Somaliland formal recognition.

However, senior government officials from Somaliland have made it clear that these actions will not apply within Somaliland’s borders. Despite Somalia’s attempts to exert influence, government officials have stood their ground, emphasizing their sovereignty and enduring strategic relationship with Ethiopia.

Ambassador Rhoda J Elmi
Ambassador Rhoda Elmi, Somaliland’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Firm Stand

Ambassador Rhoda Elmi, Somaliland’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, brushed off Somalia’s warning to close the Ethiopian Consulate General in Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland. In a statement to VOA Somali, Ambassador Rhoda labeled Somalia’s announcement as a “daydream” and deemed it “irrelevant.” She made it clear that the embassy would remain operational regardless of Mogadishu’s directives, emphasizing Somaliland’s status as an independent sovereign nation.

Ali Hassan Mohamed, Somaliland’s Minister of Information, rebuffed Somalia’s claims regarding the closure of the Ethiopian Embassy in Hargeisa. He highlighted that the Embassy in Somaliland was established without Somalia’s approval and thus would not be subject to closure based on Mogadishu’s demands.

“The Ethiopian Embassy in the Republic of Somaliland was not initially opened with Somalia’s permission and, as such, will not be closed henceforth due to Mogadishu’s refusal,” the minister said in a statement he published at X (ex-Twitter).

Minister Mohamed criticized Somalia’s approach as unwise and undiplomatic, emphasizing the importance of respecting established diplomatic protocols.

Unwavering Sovereignty, Somaliland's Firm Stance In The Face Of Somalia's Failed Diplomatic Move
Ali Hassan Mohamed, Somaliland’s Minister of Information

“It is unwise and equally undiplomatic to say that the embassy of a country over which you have no control ought to be closed. It is also a diplomatic failure to file a complaint with the Ethiopian Embassy in Mogadishu, with [a] request for the closure of the Embassy in Hargeisa,” he added.

“The Ethiopian Embassy in Hargiesa has been officially operating for the past 30 years and promotes mutual interests between the two nations, and the security of the region,” said Minister Ali.

Likewise, Ambassador Haggoogane, the ambassador at large of the Republic of Somaliland, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing that Somalia lacks the legal or practical authority to dictate the status of diplomatic missions in Somaliland. He underscored the enduring strategic relationship between Ethiopia and Somaliland, emphasizing that external interference would not disrupt their longstanding ties. Ambassador Haggoogane reaffirmed that the Ethiopian Embassy in Hargeisa would remain operational, with the accredited ambassador fulfilling his diplomatic duties as usual.

Diplomatic Escalation

In a surprising turn of events, Somalia refrained from closing the Ethiopian Embassy in Mogadishu and opted to recall its ambassador for consultations.

The diplomatic rift between Ethiopia and Somalia deepened following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland, granting Ethiopia access to a leased military base in exchange for recognition of Somaliland. Somalia denounced the MoU, citing violations of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Despite Somalia’s attempts, the Ethiopian diplomatic mission in Hargeisa continues to operate independently of Somalia’s influence.

Unwavering Relations

Despite inaccurate claims circulating about the closure of the Hargeisa embassy, the Ethiopian diplomatic mission in Somaliland underscores the strong bilateral ties between the two nations, independent of Somalia’s influence. Last year, Somaliland President Muse Bihi received the credentials of Ethiopia’s Ambassador to Somaliland, Ambassador Delil Kedir Bushra., further solidifying their diplomatic relations, which are rooted in mutual respect.

The diplomatic ties between Ethiopia and Somaliland, built on mutual esteem, remain unscathed by Somalia’s actions. Ongoing talks between Puntland State and Ethiopia hint at a shift in attitude towards re-recognizing Somaliland as an independent sovereign nation. Somalia’s reaction underscores its stance on Puntland’s diplomatic ties with Ethiopia.

In essence, Somaliland’s resolute rejection of Somalia’s orders to close the Ethiopian Embassy in Hargeisa showcases the country’s dedication to upholding its sovereignty and nurturing its diplomatic connections with Ethiopia. Despite the rising tensions, Somaliland persists in seeking independent diplomatic relationships, portraying a multifaceted and evolving landscape in the Horn of Africa.