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Somalia orders Ethiopia's ambassador to leave the country as diplomatic tensions rise

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia on Thursday ordered Ethiopia’s ambassador to leave the country within 72 hours, and the closing of Ethiopia’s consulates in the breakaway region of Somaliland and the semiautonomous region of Puntland.

Diplomats and personnel stationed at the consulates must vacate Somalia within a week, according to a Cabinet resolution. Somalia’s Foreign Ministry, in addition to expelling the Ethiopian ambassador, recalled its own ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations Thursday.

The Cabinet resolution cited Ethiopia’s interference in Somalia’s internal affairs as the reason for the decisions.

Ethiopia did not immediately respond to the vacation order but officials from the embassy in the capital Mogadishu confirmed that the communication had been received.

The decision comes three months after Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with Somaliland, which Somalia denounced as infringing upon its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The memorandum was to allow Ethiopia’s access to the sea through Somaliland and in return Ethiopia would recognize Somaliland as an independent country.

On Wednesday, Ethiopia’s foreign affairs minister held trade talks with a delegation from the Puntland region without prior coordination with the federal government of Somalia.

Somalia and Ethiopia enjoyed peaceful relations until January this year when the memorandum with Somaliland sparked diplomatic tensions between the east African neighbors.