So­mali MPs scrap Dubai ports agree­ment

Arab News - - INTERNATIONAL -

MO­GADISHU: So­ma­lia’s Par­lia­ment has de­clared “null and void” a port deal signed by break­away So­ma­liland that has raised ten­sions be­tween Mo­gadishu and Hargeisa.

Dubai-based DP World this month struck a deal giv­ing Ethiopia a 19-per­cent stake in So­ma­liland’s Ber­bera port.

The move has an­gered So­ma­lia, which does not rec­og­nize So­ma­liland’s long-stand­ing claim of in­de­pen­dence and has a his­tory of an­i­mos­ity with Ethiopia.

Declar­ing the deal un­con­sti­tu­tional and there­fore “null and void” Mo­gadishu’s Par­lia­ment on Mon­day as­serted in a res­o­lu­tion: “It is only the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment of So­ma­lia that can en­gage in in­ter­na­tional deals.”

“All ports, and air­ports in the coun­try are na­tional prop­erty and ... no one can pri­vately claim own­er­ship,” it said, af­ter 168 out of 170 MPs voted the deal down. The res­o­lu­tion went on to ban DP World from op­er­at­ing any­where in So­ma­lia.

“The DP World com­pany in­ten­tion­ally vi­o­lated the sovereignty of So­ma­lia, so this com­pany is banned com­pletely from op­er­at­ing in So­ma­lia,” the Par­lia­ment said.

The com­pany cur­rently man­ages Bos­saso port in semi-au­ton­o­mous Punt­land, as well as Ber­bera.

It is un­clear how Mo­gadishu would en­force the pro­posed ban, nor whether Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Ab­dul­lahi Mo­hamed will as­sent to it.

Last month, the UAE in­fra­struc­ture gi­ant ac­cused Dji­bouti of il­le­gally seiz­ing the Do­raleh con­tainer ter­mi­nal, the main tran­sit route to land­locked Ethiopia.

The com­pany plans to in­vest $442 mil­lion de­vel­op­ing Ber­bera on the Gulf of Aden ship­ping route, and has re­tained a ma­jor­ity 51-per­cent share in the port. The re­main­ing 30 per­cent is owned by So­ma­liland’s gov­ern­ment.

So­ma­liland’s For­eign Min­is­ter Sa­cad Ali Shire de­fended both the ini­tial deal with DP World, signed in 2016, and the re­cent buy-in by Ethiopia, which hopes the Ber­bera cor­ri­dor will of­fer it an­other route to the sea for im­ports and ex­ports.

“The deal was bi­lat­eral, one ini­tially be­tween DP world and So­ma­liland, and both of them have the right to sell their shares if the other side agrees. That is the ba­sis un­der which Ethiopia is al­lowed to join,” he told re­porters in Hargeisa on Sun­day.

Last month, the UAE in­fra­struc­ture gi­ant ac­cused Dji­bouti of il­le­gally seiz­ing the Do­raleh con­tainer ter­mi­nal, the main tran­sit route to land­locked Ethiopia. (Reuters)

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