For the first time since both leaders came to power, the President of the Republic of Somaliland, His Excellency Musa Bihi Abdi, and the prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, met at the latter’s office in Addis Ababa yesterday, Wednesday.
According to Tweets each of the two leaders expressed his views on the meeting, the two sides agreed to work more closely together on several spheres foremost among which stronger economic ties, security, optimum utilization of the red Sea port of Berbera for the benefit of both countries, and the protection of ethnic Ethiopians living in Somaliland.
I met the Prime Minister of the Federal Government of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiye Ahmed, at his office in Addis Ababa during my official visit to Ethiopia. We discussed ways to strengthen the bilateral relationship and trade collaboration of the two countries. #Somaliland pic.twitter.com/IAG4ADNveN
— Muse Bihi Abdi (@musebiihi) February 20, 2019
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received at his office today the President of the Somaliland Administration H.E. Muse Bihi Abdi and his delegation. The two parties discussed on a number of key issues of mutual interest.
— Office of the Prime Minister – Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) February 20, 2019
“The two parties discussed and agreed on a number of key points including strengthening their people to people relations; ensuring the well-being of Ethiopians in Somaliland and working in unison on matters of peace and security,” the Prime Minister’s office posted on its official Facebook page.
It went on to respectfully relate the impression of the president of Somaliland at the meeting: “H.E. Muse Bihi Abdi acknowledged the strides being made by Prime Minister Abiy towards regional integration,” it said.
Dr. Abiy Ahmed, reports indicate, asked President Musa Bihi Abdi to moderate strained relations with the Federal Government of Somalia so that the sputtering talks between the two sides find a space to get off the ground again.
President Bihi accepted PM Ahmed’s suggestion informing him that Somaliland never opposed talking with its erstwhile, junior partner in the 1960 union but that their only concern was that Somalia had proven time and again that it was not sincere on outcome of such talks.
President Bihi and his delegation was received at the airport by the Minister of Finance of Federal Ethiopia, Ahmed Shide, correctly the national flags of the two countries as backdrops at the VIP lounge.
It was an honor for me to receive H.E Muse Bihi Abdi the president of Somaliland today at Addis Ababa Bole international Airport, for his official visit to #Ethiopia @musebiihi @PMEthiopia pic.twitter.com/adbu1cxMMG
— Ahmed Shide (@Ahmshide) February 20, 2019
The meeting between the two sides, observers across the spectrum agree, came at an opportune time breathing more life into a relationship that have somewhat dampened since Dr. Abiy came to office. The PM’s vision of a regional cooperation appeared to sideline its strongest ally to the east – Somaliland, giving more credence and lopsided exposure to a President Farmajo who did not even rule the city he lived in. Somaliland and Ethiopia had developed collaboration protocols on different sectors among which security and economic ties always topped the list.
Landlocked Ethiopia had with Somaliland hitherto enjoyed unconditional relations that benefited Ethiopia more than it did Somaliland. Ethiopia, in a position, to significantly transform African Union view on Somaliland’s right to self-determination and a re-assertion of the internationally recognized independence it sacrificed to union with Italian Somalia in 1960, failed to do so in the nearly 28 years Somaliland has been surging ahead on its own, unsupported path to sovereignty and diplomatic recognition.
Wednesday’s meeting between the two sides, observers contend, again, promised more for Ethiopia and Ethiopians than Somaliland and Somalilanders, Somaliland opposition members state.