Former President calls on federal leaders to reconsider Somalia’s stance on Djibouti-Eritrea dispute

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Thursday August 2, 2018 Mogadishu (RBB) – Former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has urged the leaders of the federal government to reconsider their stance on Djibouti-Eritrea border dispute.

In 2008, Djibouti and Eritrea fought over ownership of Ras Doumeira, a town on the border of the two countries.

Mr. Mohamud in a statement said Djibouti lost men and women in the fight defend Somalia’s stability.

“The most expensive sacrifice a human being could offer is the soul. People of Djibouti did not only spend their wealth but also sacrificed their lives and shed their blood for us (Somalia),” reads the statement. “Djibouti paid ultimate sacrifices to stand on our shoulder….did our leaders ask themselves how many (Djibouti) children lost fathers, how many wives lost husbands or how many mothers lost their sons in our support?”

The former President welcomed the move to revive the diplomatic ties with Eritrea but cautioned against leaving behind people of Djibouti.

“It is a good step taken towards the progress if the government of Somalia decided to resume its ties with nations and people of the region,” Mr. Mohamud said, “… Therefore, I call on the leaders of our nation to reconsider their decision towards the issues between Djibouti and Eritrea.”

During the three-day state visit to Asmara, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had assured Eritrean government his support and called for the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Eritrea.

Relations between Eritrea and Djibouti have been in shambles since the latter’s decision to support Ethiopia during the Eritrean-Ethiopian War of 1998–2000. Djibouti did not participate directly in the fighting but provided intelligence and logistical support to Ethiopia. As a result of the 1998 border war, Ethiopia – a landlocked country – lost access to the Eritrean port of Massawa and began to form an economic and political partnership with Djibouti that was born of out mutual necessity. Djiboutian ports delivered up to 95% of Ethiopian imports and in return import fresh water and electricity from Ethiopia

Tensions between Eritrea and Djibouti reached a crescendo in June 2008 when armed clashes broke out between the two neighbours after Djibouti accused Asmara of moving troops across the disputed Ras Doumeira area.

A fragile Qatari-brokered peace deal was reached in 2010 that was responsible for monitoring the disputed area and working towards fostering a lasting peace between the two sides. The presence of the nearly 500-strong troops created a seven-year no-peace-no-war stalemate that was threatened last June when Qatar abruptly pulled out of the border region in protest of both countries’ decision to support a Saudi Arabia led coalition in their blockade on Qatar.

The sentiment of Mr. Mohamud comes on the heel of Djibouti’s statement to rebuke Somalia over its call to lift sanctions against Eritrea.

“As a sovereign state, there is no doubt that Somalia has the right to establish diplomatic relations with the countries in the region. However, it is unacceptable to see our brotherly Somalia supporting Eritrea, which is occupying part of our territory and still denying having Djiboutian prisoners,” reads Djibouti statement issued on Wednesday.

It added, “The government and people the Republic of Djibouti, have been deeply shocked by the statement by the President the Federal Republic of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’ during his recent visit Asmara in which he called on the United Nations (U.N.) sanctions against Eritrea since 2009 for destabilising role in neighbouring courier.”

Djibouti sent its troops in 2011 to fight alongside Somali forces to defeat Al-Shabaab fighters.

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