Port Row: Somaliland Will Not Close Ethiopian Consulates


Somaliland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Rhoda Elmisaid has said it will not close the two Ethiopian consulates that Somalia’s government has ordered closure in the region.

The self-declared republic of Somaliland and Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region have condemned the Mogadishu government’s move to close two Ethiopian consulates.

On Thursday the Somali government expelled the Ethiopian ambassador after accusing the diplomat of meddling in the internal affairs of the country and infringing on its sovereignty.

The expulsion was sparked by a controversial port deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland which has fuelled diplomatic tensions for months.

Things were further heightened after an Ethiopian delegation met with Puntland officials in Addis Ababa earlier in the week.

The two Ethiopian consulates that Somalia ordered to close are in Hargeisa and Garowe, the capitals of Somaliland and Puntland, respectively.

“The embassy shall remain open irrespective of what Mogadishu says,” Rhoda Elmisaid, Somaliland’s deputy foreign minister, told the Reuters news agency.

Both Puntland and Somaliland said they will not respect the decision.

Mohamud Aydid Dirir, Puntland’s information minister, told the Voice of America’s Somali radio service: “Somalia’s decision will not work.”

In January, Ethiopia signed a deal with Somaliland to lease a 20km (12 miles) strip of coastline, so it could build a navy base.

Somalia described the deal as an act of aggression over its territory, which Ethiopia denies.