HARGEISA – Ethiopia’s absence at the DP World Berbera launch on October 10th has sparked many questions and concerns from Somalilanders, who were expecting the country’s government to attend the milestone event.
The first phase of the DPW Berbera project was launched by the President of the Republic of Somaliland, H.E Muse Bihi Abdi and DP World Group Chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.
Ethiopia – which holds a 19% share in the project – was reportedly invited to attend the launch, and was expected to show up, according to Somaliland Foreign Minister, Saad Ali Shire.
Shire held a press conference the next day on October 11th, to address questions on Ethiopia’s absence.
“Ethiopia didn’t attend the conference – but that doesn’t mean that they have abandoned the deal that we have signed with them. Their physical presence at the DPW Berbera launch doesn’t validate or invalidate the deal. The deal is still on, and will be carried out, God willing. This project isn’t something Ethiopia is merely interested in – This project is essential for Ethiopia. Bebera port is of great importance to Ethiopia,” Shire said.
“Yes, they were invited, but as you know, Ethiopia is currently undergoing massive change – but what matters is that we already finalized our agreement with them,” Shire said.
Berbera Port director, Said Hassan Mohamed, also spoke about Ethiopia’s absence, echoing Shire’s statements.
“It doesn’t matter if Ethiopia was present or if they weren’t present – what matters is that we signed an agreement. This was just a ceremony. If Ethiopia was too busy to attend – that isn’t an issue, since we already signed the agreement with them,” Mohamed said.
Last Wednesday (Oct 17), President Bihi publicly addressed the issue for the first time, and said that Ethiopia didn’t attend because they were busy with the 11th EPRDF congress, that took place on October 3-5 in Hawassa, SNNPR, Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia’s government couldn’t attend because they were busy with internal affairs, and the EPRDF congress,” President Bihi said.
Ethiopia’s government hasn’t released an official statement explaining why they didn’t attend the DPW Berbera launch.
This is a developing story. Please check back at The National for more.