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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Somaliland leader slams 'senseless hostility' of opposition to DP World deal

Muse Bihi Abdi says Somalia "overstepped the line" by criticising Ethiopia agreement

A deal granting Ethiopia a stake in Somaliland's  Port of Berbera in Somaliland has raised controversy. Zacharias Abubeker / AFP
A deal granting Ethiopia a stake in Somaliland's Port of Berbera in Somaliland has raised controversy. Zacharias Abubeker / AFP

The president of the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland issued a fresh condemnation of Somalia’s government’s “senseless hostility” to its tripartite agreement with Ethiopia and Dubai-based port operator DP World on the development of Berbera Port.

Writing exclusively for The National, Muse Bihi Abdi said that Somalia has “overstepped the line” in its criticism of an agreement earlier this month by Somaliland and DP World to grant a 19 per cent stake in the port development project to Ethiopia.

Somalia’s Ministry of Ports and Marine Transport dismissed the agreement as “defective”, saying it contravened the country’s provisional constitution.

“Despite the obvious benefits that the trilateral investment would bring to the Horn of Africa, the Somali Parliament on Monday spitefully declared this project void and has sought to ban DP World from investing in Somaliland,” Mr Abdi said.

“Although this decision has no legal merit and will not in any way impact the deal with DP World and Ethiopia, it demonstrates to the international community Somalia’s senseless hostility towards Somaliland.”

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Somalia’s lower house of parliament last week rejected the deal by a large majority.

“The international community should be asking why Somalia – a country that has received billions of dollars in aid over the past three decades, but which still remains a failed state – is using the little bandwidth available in its political spectrum to undermine a project that would deliver greater prosperity for the region,” said Mr Abdi.

His remarks coincided with the opening of a new Somaliland trade office in Dubai on Monday, in conjunction with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

“The UAE is our main trading partner in the region and this is an important landmark in our relationship,” Mr Abdi.

“The new trade office will promote the already growing trade ties between our two countries and we look forward to working together to enabling the growth of our people and economies.”