Investigative Reports

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Somaliland Minister of Defense Resigns in Protest of MoU with Ethiopia

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In a statement, Mr. Abdiqani Mohamoud Aateye, the Minister of Defense has resigned his post in protest of the Memorandum of Understanding that Somaliland has signed with Ethiopia for naval base. Mr. Aateye was appointed by President Bihi when he took office to the Justice portfolio and later reassigned to the defense.

In his resignation press interview, Mr. Aateye has echoed the inflammatory rhetoric of Somalia’s federal government, labeling Ethiopia the “archenemy” of Somalis, and accused Ethiopia of occupying Somali territories, specifically alluding to Ethiopia’s Somali region. Furthermore, Aateye inaccurately portrayed the Memorandum of Understanding between Ethiopia and Somaliland for the naval base as a permanent land concession, misrepresenting it as opposed to its actual nature as a lease.

Aateye, a telecommunications engineer with no prior public service experience, falls in line with a pattern seen in many of President Bihi’s appointments. The lack of relevant background raises questions about the rationale behind such selections.

Inside sources within the government who spoke on condition of anonymity stated that Aateye had a close relationship with the government of Djibouti, particularly with President Ismail Omer Guelleh. While multiple social media posts by the now-former Defense Minister hinted at these ties, Somaliland Chronicle has been unable to independently verify these allegations. Its unclear if Mr. Aateye’s objection to the Ethiopian naval base in his native region and his alleged ties to the President and government of Djibouti are related.

Mr. Aateye who hails from the Selal region which is where the potential Ethiopian base will be located as disclosed Mr. Redwan Hussein, National Security Affairs Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in an interview, was widely criticized for the disasters withdrawal of Somaliland forces from Lasanod where the Ministry of Defense issued multiple confusing statement on the unfolding disaster.

So far, the government of Djibouti has not publicly come out against the MoU signed by President of the Republic of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia in Addis on January 1st for potential naval base in the Red Sea for Ethiopia in exchange for recognition of Somaliland and other commercial interest concessions between the two countries.

Although details have far from finalized between Somaliland and Ethiopia, the historic deal brewing between Somaliland and Ethiopia could potentially reshape the Horn of Africa. When finalized, it might pave the way for Somaliland to shed its 32-year limbo of unrecognition to become Africa’s 55th state, finally securing the coveted international recognition it has long sought. This, in turn, could grant Ethiopia, currently landlocked, a coveted foothold on the Red Sea via a naval base in Somaliland.

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