The US and Egypt were party to talks between Somalia and UAE on granting a 30 year concession to the Middle Eastern country to upgrade and manage the Port of Berbera, a UAE official has claimed.
Mohamed bin Zaid Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi said that the three countries took part in the discussions which culminated into a near unanimous vote by Somaliland parliament few months before a similar vote which saw UAE win another 30 year deal to set a naval base near the port.
According to Egypt’s Al-Watan newspaper, Al-Nahyan insisted that the deal was legal and based on the outcome of the tripartite talks. Somali government is yet to comment on its involvement in Berbera port deal.
“We made a deal with Egypt and Somalia to start a commercial port in the shores of the Gulf of Aden,” said Al-Nahyan.
The deal, Al-Nahyan said was reached after talks with US, Egypt and Somalia and it will be one of the biggest commercial ports in the world and would bolsters security in the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The Prince added the UAE would take over the security of the Bab al-Mandab Straits.
Last year, Somaliland signed a 442-million-dollar deal for a Dubai-based firm to upgrade the port of Berbera, which mainly exports livestock to the Middle East. Demonstrators took to the streets of Berbera against the handover of the town’s sea port to DP World following the endorsement of the pact by lawmakers in Somaliland parliament last month.
The contract allows UAE’s international ports operator, DP World, to manage Somaliland’s largest port, Berbera for 30-years. Sources privy to the contract indicate both DP world and Somaliland ceded 5% each of the shareholding to accommodate The Ethiopian State-owned company Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Services Enterprise (ESL)
Somali government Auditor General Nur Jimale Farah announced last year Mogadishu’s plans to file complaint against the UAE on charges of violating international law for entering deals with the Somaliland government.