East Africa

Kenya protests expulsion of Somalia envoy

Mohamed Farmaajo and Uhuru Kenyatta.

Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at a past press conference in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

Summary

  • Kenya suggests the new accusation was made to distract Somalia from the electoral programme, as well as other challenges it faces.
  • This is not the first time there has been tension between Mogadishu and Nairobi. Last year, Kenya recalled its ambassador after Mogadishu decided to auction oil and gas exploration blocks at the centre of a maritime territorial dispute.

Kenya on Monday evening protested the manner in which its ambassador to Mogadishu was ordered out of the country.

A statement from the Foreign Ministry in Nairobi said Mogadishu should “avoid distracting actions” suggesting the accusations it is interfering in Somalia’s affairs could divert the country’s attention from the electoral calendar it faces.

Somalia ordered the expulsion of Kenya’s ambassador after accusing its neighbour of interfering in the electoral process in Jubbaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states, the latest dispute between the two countries. Somalia also recalled its ambassador from Nairobi.

On Monday, Kenya suggested the new accusation was made to distract Somalia from the electoral programme, as well as other challenges it faces.

“The government of Kenya respects and upholds the cardinal international principles of self-determination, sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of all countries, and in particular those in Africa,” said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Though not new, the latest spat began last Wednesday after Jubbaland state President Ahmed Mohamed Madobe returned to Somalia from a trip to Kenya.

He held a press conference in Kismayu last week, some 500 south of Mogadishu, warning his state could pull out of elections unless a deal was reached on the venues of the parliamentary elections due next week.

Somalia says the sudden change of stance by Madobe has something to do with pressure from Nairobi.

A political arrangement reached between President Mohamed Farmaajo and five federal states meant that two main town centres in each of the five federal states will be polling centres for election of MPs.

But Jubbaland’s tiff with the federal government on whether the state will fully take charge of the centres’ security and where the actual centres fall means there is no certainty on elections.

This is not the first time there has been tension between Mogadishu and Nairobi. Last year, Kenya recalled its ambassador after Mogadishu decided to auction oil and gas exploration blocks at the centre of a maritime territorial dispute.

The two countries restored ties a few months later. Kenya contributes troops to Somalia as part of an African Union-led peacekeeping force which, along with the Somali federal government and local states, is fighting an al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency.