East Africa

Kenya names head of Liaison Office to Somaliland

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somaliland's President Musa Bihi.

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta receives Somaliland's President Musa Bihi Abdi at State House Nairobi in December 2020. PHOTO | PSCU

Kenya has appointed a head of its Liaison Office to the self-declared republic of Somaliland in a move that could raise another diplomatic tiff with Somalia.

A Note Verbale communications from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated September 2 says that Kenya has deployed four officers to Hargeisa, namely Head of the Liaison Office Benson Mwaliko, Second Counsellor Charles Wachira, and Administrative Attaches Grace Musau and Ronald Nyakweba.

Kenya is one of the few countries in the region that has forged a strong link with Somaliland, which unilaterally declared independence in 1991 but has not been recognised by the international community.

The latest move could spark a new diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia because Mogadishu insists that Somaliland is part of its territory and no country is allowed to have bilateral relations with Hargeisa without Mogadishu’s permission.

Somaliland has a Liaison Office in Kenya, which is one of the few countries that allowed the breakaway region to open an office.

So far only Taiwan has recognised Somaliland. The African Union (AU) has always maintained that Somaliland recognition must first come through Somalia before other African countries can follow.

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