Nigerian ex-president sent to mediate Ethiopia-Somalia tensions Nigerian ex-president sent to mediate Ethiopia-Somalia tensions

Nigerian ex-president sent to mediate Ethiopia-Somalia tensions

Nigerian ex-president sent to mediate Ethiopia-Somalia tensions

In a bid to prevent the escalating tensions between Ethiopia and Somalia from spiralling into a full-blown war, the African Union's Peace and Security Council (PSC) has deployed former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo for negotiation efforts.

The dangerous strain in relations between the two neighboring countries emerged after the secessionist region of Somaliland signed an agreement with Ethiopia on January 1rst, granting the latter control over a maritime port and a military base on the Red Sea.

Last week, Somalia declared its readiness to go to war.

This wouldn't be the first time the two nations have clashed. In 1977, they disputed territory, and in 2006, Ethiopia invaded Somalia as part of the fight against terrorism.

By allowing Ethiopia access to its territory, Somaliland hopes to gain recognition for its status as an independent state, a claim it has asserted since 1991 when it broke away from the voluntary union of 1960 with Somalia.

Obasanjo faces a challenging task as the two countries engage in a delicate geopolitical dance. On Wednesday, Somalia turned away an Ethiopian flight bound for Somaliland, carrying representatives of the Ethiopian government.

The PSC has since stated that it "called on the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the Federal Republic of Somalia to adhere to the fundamental principles of the AU and international law and draw inspiration from them in their bilateral and international relations."

The African Union considers Somaliland a province of Somalia.

While designating Obasanjo, the PSC has also urged against interference by other countries in the matter. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened an extraordinary summit on Thursday in Kampala, Uganda, to discuss the issue.

However, Somalia has declared that it will not engage in any discussions with Ethiopia unless the latter reverses its January 1 agreement with Somaliland.

"The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia have been violated by Ethiopia when it signed an illegal agreement with the northern region [the administration of Somaliland] of Somalia. That is why there is no room for mediation unless Ethiopia reverses its illegal agreement and reaffirms the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia," stated the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs.



South Africa: Govt seeks to block auction of Nelson Mandela's personal items in the US

A planned auction in the US of about 70 personal items belonging to South Africa's anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela may be stopped as the South African government has filed a motion in court to prevent its sale.

South African Heritage Resources Agency (Sahra), the body charged with protecting the country's history and culture, says "it had filed an appeal to block the sale" in December.

According to media reports, the controversial auction in the US, now planned for 22 January by Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandelaincludes a set of hearing aids, an ID card, gifts from world leaders and some of the apartheid hero's clothing.

New York-based Guernsey's auction house has already listed them for sale saying the shirt might sell for up to $70,000 and the hearing aids up to $20,000. But items considered to be of national heritage cannot be taken out of the country under South African law. 

Zizi Kodwa, the country's minister for sport, arts and culture ministry has said his ministry was backing the case "for the sake of maintaining the country's rich heritage". "It is thus important that we preserve the legacy of former President Mandela and ensure that his life's work experiences remain in the country for generations to come" Kodwa added in a statement.

In December, the High Court in Pretoria, the rainbow nation's capital gave Ms Mandela the go-ahead to sell the items, disputing the government's argument that they were of national heritage before Sahra filed its appeal.

The government had first opposed the auction when it was announced in 2021, saying that the items proposed for sale were in fact national artefacts. The controversial auction, planned at the time for 2022, was then cancelled, resulting in a two-year legal battle.

Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist and politician who spent 27 years in prison served as the first president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was the country's first black head of state and the first elected in a fully representative democratic election.

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