Somaliland parliament Sunday overwhelmingly endorsed the establishing of a military base in the break-away region of Somalia by the United Arab Emirates.
In a joint seating by the House of Representatives and House of Elders, 144 lawmakers voted in favour of the deal while five rejected out of 151 lawmakers present.
The vote now clears Ahmed Silanyo’s administration to complete negotiations with the UAE to build its first military base in Africa alongside a 30-year lease agreement for military use of the port of Assab in Eritrea.
The agreement follows last year’s 30 year Berbera Port management by UAE’s DP World setting the Emirati in one of the most strategic sea routes in the world. The deal also gives an edge for the Emirati influence in the Horn of Africa joining the US which already runs Camp Lemonnier military base in the neighbouring Djibouti. The Chinese also inked a deal last year with Djibouti to build a military base.
Today’s vote however faced resistance from the opposition party Wadani and religious leaders who have questioned the legitimacy of the deal.
Lower House speaker and Wadani Party founder Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi Irro strongly defied the House warning some MPs were coerced into agreeing to the deal adding the Lower House did not reach an agreement before putting it to a vote.
“This agreement has not been passed by the Lower House. There are MPs (three) who were arrested after they rejected the pact while others were threatened. We are telling the public the deal was passed by force and not by the will of the House,” said Irro.
Article 53 subsection 3 of Somaliland constitution bestows powers to the Lower House to ratify international agreements/treaties among a range of areas including security agreements ‘which impose new financial burdens which have not been covered in the Budget, or which will involve the promulgation or amendment of legislation’.
Wadani party MP Hirsi Ali Haji Hassan warned granting rights a foreign government to build a military base in Somaliland is tantamount to compromising the state’s sovereignty. “To enter into an agreement with a foreign government to build a military base is endangering our nation. You don’t call for armed foreign personnel whose power you do not know or can challenge or defend yourself from especially when you are not internationally recognised,” Hassan said.