Djibouti denies agreeing to host the Ethiopian navy

Asad Cabdullahi MataanBy Asad Cabdullahi Mataan

By: Hussein Siyad 

Addis Ababa (Caasimada Online) – Djibouti has denied agreeing to host the Ethiopian navy currently being rebuilt after an Ethiopian news website had published an article claiming the new navy would be based in Djibouti.

Ethiopia, with a population of over 85 million people, is the largest landlocked population in the world. This provides a large market for countries like Djibouti who provide port services and logistics to Ethiopia.

90 percent of the cargo passing through Djibouti goes to Ethiopia. The country has been reliant on the demand provided by the Ethiopian population. Several infrastructure projects like the most recent 760 KM railway line from Port Duraleh in Djibouti to Adis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Prime minister of Ethiopia and Nobel peace prize winner, Abiy Ahmed, said: “We built one of the strongest ground and air forces in Africa now we should build our naval force capacity.” This effectively signaled the commencement of the rebuilding of the Ethiopia Navy.

The Imperial Ethiopian Navy, part of the Ethiopian Defence forces, was disestablished formally in 1996 after the Eritrean war of independence in 1991. The civil war left Ethiopia landlocked, with no home ports. The navy was temporarily allowed in Yemeni ports before being expelled in 1996.

There have been talks of a revival of the navy since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, with the support of Emmanuel Macron of France. France has already trained some navy officials and will continue to train more officers.

The Ethiopian news channel reported that in the prime minister’s recent visit to Djibouti, it was agreed upon that Djibouti would host the Ethiopian navy.

Mohamed Idris Farah, Djibouti’s ambassador to Ethiopia, however, said in an interview with BBC, that no such agreements have been made and that it was only proposed by the prime minister to Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

He then went on to add that if an agreement is to be made between the two countries, France must be present in the negotiations.

This is believed to be a protective mechanism for Djibouti which was a former colony of the French.