Somalia closes Ethiopian diplomatic missions and expels ambassador

Mogadishu, Apr. 5, (dpa/GNA) – The Somali government has decided to close Ethiopia’s diplomatic missions in the Horn of Africa country amid rising tensions between the two countries.

A Cabinet decision published in Mogadishu on Thursday ordered the offices of Ethiopian diplomats in Hargeisa in the Somaliland region and in Garowe in the Puntland region to close within a week, and the staff to return to Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian ambassador has also been given a week to leave the country. There was initially no reaction from the government in Addis Ababa.

Relations between the two neighbouring countries soured after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the President of the autonomous region of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, signed a joint declaration of intent at the beginning of the year.

In it, Somaliland said it would grant the landlocked state of Ethiopia access to the Red Sea, something that Somalia sees as a violation of its sovereignty. Somaliland, a region with around 3.5 million inhabitants, broke away from Somalia and has been practically independent for more than three decades.