Somalia Says Ethiopia Tried to Block Its President From AU Summit

islamabad — Somalia has condemned what it calls “a provocative attempt by the Ethiopian government,” claiming that Ethiopian security forces tried to block Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud from accessing the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, a government statement said Saturday. 

“The Federal Republic of Somalia strongly condemns the provocative attempt by the Ethiopian government to obstruct the delegation of the Somali President from attending the 2024 African Union Summit in Addis Ababa,” said the statement released by the Somali National News Agency SONNA. 

 

“This action breaches all diplomatic and international protocols and, most critically, the established traditions of the African Union. This behavior adds to the growing list of erratic actions by the Ethiopian government in recent times,” said the statement. 

Ethiopia hosts the African Union headquarters, and Mohamud — leading a delegation from the Somalia government — went there to attend the AU summit at a time when both countries already are at odds over a controversial maritime pact between Ethiopia and Somaliland. 

“Given that Ethiopia hosts the African Union headquarters, its leadership and government have an obligation to treat all African leaders equally,” the Somali government statement said.   

“Hosting the AU is both an honor and a privilege for Ethiopia; however, if its government fails to uphold this honor and responsibility with the necessary decorum, it may be necessary for the African Union to reevaluate the location of its headquarters,” the statement added. 

Mogadishu described the incident as “outrageous conduct” and called for a full investigation by the pan-African body. 

“While we denounce Ethiopia’s unwarranted action, we also call upon the AU to urgently conduct a credible and independent investigation to this outrageous conduct in line with the protocols of the union,” the statement said. 

“This morning when I prepared myself to come and attend the closed session of the summit, the Ethiopian security blocked my way,” Mohamud told reporters, after later gaining entry to the venue for the meeting. 

He said he had tried again with another head of state, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh, but they were also blocked from the AU headquarters, a claim challenged by Ethiopia.   

“A soldier with a gun stood in front of us and denied us access to this facility,” he said. 

Agence France-Presse has reported that Ethiopia insisted Mohamud was warmly welcomed and said the Somali delegation was blocked when its security detail tried to enter a venue with weapons. 

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s spokeswoman, Billene Seyoum, told AFP that Ethiopia had “warmly welcomed” Mohamud and accorded him the full honors of visiting heads of state and governments to the summit. 

She said the Somali delegation had declined the security offered by Ethiopia and tried to enter a venue with their weapons. 

“As host country, the government of Ethiopia is responsible for the security of all heads of state and government while in the country,” Seyoum said.   

“The Somali delegation security attempted to enter the AUC [African Union Commission] premises with weapons, which was blocked off by AUC security.” 

Somalia has accused Ethiopia of violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity over the January 1 memorandum of understanding with Somaliland that declared independence in 1991 in a move not recognized by the international community. 

Under the maritime deal, Somaliland agreed to lease 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) of its coast for 50 years to Ethiopia, which wants to set up a naval base and a commercial port on the coast. 

In return, Somaliland — a former British protectorate — has said Ethiopia would give it formal recognition, assertions not confirmed by Addis Ababa. 

Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa and one of the largest landlocked nations in the world, was cut off from the coast after Eritrea seceded and declared independence in 1993 following a three-decade-long war.   

Addis Ababa had maintained access to a port in Eritrea until the two countries went to war in 1998-2000, and since then, Ethiopia has sent most of its sea trade through Djibouti.   

While Somaliland is largely stable, Somalia has witnessed decades of civil war and a bloody Islamist insurgency by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militant group. 

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