Mogadishu, SOMALIA – In a development that has significant implications for the Horn of Africa’s geopolitical landscape, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud delivered a powerful statement at the Presidential Mosque after Friday prayers. The Somali President’s address focused on denouncing the government of Ethiopia’s recent actions and statements, which is seen as a direct challenge to Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud expressed strong disapproval of Ethiopia’s declaration that undermined Somalia’s status as a sovereign nation. He was particularly critical of Ethiopia’s refusal to seek consultation or consent from the Somali government regarding territorial matters. This dismissal by Ethiopia has prompted a forceful response from the Somali government, including the nullification of the controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). President Mohamud emphasized the significance and validity of these actions, asserting Somalia’s right to defend its sovereignty.
Addressing Territorial Claims
A critical aspect of President Mohamud’s address was his condemnation of Ethiopia’s claim over part of the Awdal region in Somalia. Highlighting the irony in Ethiopia’s territorial assertions, he pointed out Somalia’s restraint in making similar claims over historically Somali regions within Ethiopia, which were annexed during colonial times. His statement, “It is not for Ethiopia to make territorial claims on us, but for us to make territorial claims on them,” underscores a deeply rooted historical and territorial contention between the two nations.
President Mohamud also addressed the potential for escalating tensions, stating that Somalia would strongly retaliate if Ethiopia took any action to occupy the Awdal region, even though the current disagreements remain at a rhetorical stage. His declaration that Somalia would “respond by taking four steps in retaliation” is a clear indication of the government’s readiness to defend its territory.
The Broader Threat to Somalia’s Stability
In his impassioned speech, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud identified not only Al-Shabab but also the Ethiopian government as significant threats to Somalia’s stability. He emphasized the need for Somali unity to face these challenges, urging the people to prepare for repelling both the extremist group and any foreign aggression from Ethiopia. This dual characterization of threats by President Mohamud, equating the Ethiopian government’s actions with those of Al-Shabaab, signals a significant deterioration in relations with Ethiopia.
The President’s address was more than a response to immediate provocations; it was a firm reaffirmation of Somalia’s commitment to its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. His strong condemnation of the Ethiopian government’s actions was not only a defense of Somalia’s borders but also a rallying cry for national unity.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s statement serves as a stark reminder to Ethiopia and the international community that Somalia will not tolerate violations of its sovereignty. It stands as a testament to the Somali government’s resolve to protect its people and land against external aggression. This moment in Somali politics is pivotal, as it not only addresses current tensions with Ethiopia but also sets the tone for Somalia’s approach to its sovereignty and territorial rights in the future.