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Kenya douses tension between Ethiopia and Somalia, proposes maritime treaty 



President of Somalia and Ethiopia

Kenya has acted as a buffer dousing tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia over a deal allowing landlocked Ethiopia to set up a naval base and use ports in Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland.

According to Reuters, landlocked Ethiopia agreed on Jan 1 to lease 20km of coastline in Somaliland, a part of Somalia that has been a breakaway state since 1991, offering possible recognition of Somaliland in exchange for the lease.

The move by Ethiopia sparked tensions between both countries, prompting a defiant response from Somalia, raising concerns that the tensions might destabilize the Horn of Africa.

In response to the situation, Kenya proposes a treaty after consultation with Djibouti and the regional bloc IGAD that would govern how landlocked countries in the region can access ports on commercial terms.

The information was relayed by Korir Sing’oei, Kenya’s principal secretary for foreign affairs.

“IGAD can be able to formulate a treaty for sharing maritime resources,” he said, referring to the bloc that brings together countries in the region.

On Thursday Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud held a meeting with the Kenyan President in Nairobi the state capital as part of efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the situation.

“We continue to engage with all the parties with a view to ensuring that at the end of the day, the region is left all stable,” Sing’oei said.

If the treaty is accepted, Ethiopia will have full and stable access to maritime resources so it can conduct its business unhindered while respecting Somalia’s territorial integrity at the same time.

Somalia and Ethiopia are both considering the deal and leaders of both countries have been asked to consider meeting to take the process forward.

What To Know 

  • Ethiopia is the world’s most populous landlocked country and lost its access to the sea in 1993 when Eritrea seceded from the country after a war that lasted for three decades.
  • Somaliland has been a self-governing state separate from Somalia for over three decades after the territory declared independence from Somaliland in 1991.
  • According to the Council of Foreign Affairs, no foreign country recognizes the sovereignty of Somaliland but they admit the region is separate from Somalia.


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