What you need to know:
- The meeting also called upon the two governments 'to de-escalate tensions and instead engage in constructive dialogue."
Countries in the Horn of Africa meeting in Uganda Thursday called out on Ethiopia to refrain from acts that depict disrespect to Somalia's sovereignty.
At the 42nd Extraordinary Assembly of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State and Government sitting at State House, Entebbe, the leaders "reaffirmed the cardinal principles of respect for the sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia."
This is concerning the controversial seaport deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland, a breakaway Somali territory, in which the latter agreed to lease 20 kilometres of its Red Sea coastline to the former for 50 years to construct a naval base and a commercial port.
The Memorandum of Understanding has sparked protests from Somalia, which, like the international community, does not recognize Somaliland's independence.
"Any engagement should uphold the above cardinal principles, and any agreement or arrangement should be with the consent of the Federal Government of Somalia," the leaders said after the meeting which Ethiopia boycotted on the excuse that it was invited at “very short notice”.
The Assembly was chaired by H.E. Ismail Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti and the Chairperson of the IGAD Heads of State and Government and was attended by: H.E. Dr. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya; H.E. Dr. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia; H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan; H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda;
Also in attendance were; H.E. Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, the Executive Secretary of IGAD; H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission; H.E. Ramtane Lamamra, Personal Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Sudan; H.E. Eng. Waleed M. Alkhuraji, Deputy Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; H.E. Annette Weber, European Union Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa; Also present were Annette Weber, European Union Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa; Michael Hammer, US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa; Hossam Eldin Mohamed, Assistant Secretary General of the League of Arab States; Mohamed Abdi Ware, and, Chief-of-Staff of the Office of the UN Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, among others.
The meeting also called upon the two governments 'to de-escalate tensions and instead engage in constructive dialogue."
It remains to be seen if the two will engage in talks as Somalia had up to Wednesday insisted that there would not be mediated talks with Ethiopia.
“There is no space for mediation unless Ethiopia retracts its illegal MoU and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia,” Somalia's Foreign and International Affairs Ministry said in a statement.
Five days after the deal between Ethiopia and Somaliland was signed on January 1, Somalia President Mohamud signed the law nullifying what he called the illegal MoU between the government of Ethiopia and Somaliland.
"With the support of our lawmakers and our people, this law is an illustration of our commitment to safeguard our unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity as per international law."
Somalia's stand has been immediately supported by the African Union.
The Entebbe IGAD summit also deliberated on the conflict in the Sudan specifically about the security and humanitarian situation there.
They reiterated their call for the warring parties to commit to dialogue and negotiation.
“We express IGAD's continued readiness to offer its good offices to facilitate an all-inclusive peace process to end the conflict in close collaboration with all Sudanese stakeholders, AU, and regional and international actors," the statement reads in part.
The meeting reiterated their call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire as well as the cessation of hostilities "to end this unjust war affecting the people of Sudan to pave the way for a political dialogue”.