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Kenya-Somalia diplomatic tiff throws miraa talks into disarray

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Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Somalia suspended exports of miraa in March as efforts to stem spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the matter has over the past few months taken a political twist as farmers and traders accuse the government of doing little to resolve the issue.

Negotiations for resumption of miraa exports to Somalia have been thrown into disarray following escalation of the diplomatic tiff between Nairobi and Mogadishu.

The turn of events came after the Somalia government last Sunday recalled its envoy and expelled Kenya's ambassador claiming interference of the country’s elections.

Somalia suspended exports of miraa in March as efforts to stem spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the matter has over the past few months taken a political twist as farmers and traders accuse the government of doing little to resolve the issue.

Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi has called for calm and patience among farmers and traders, saying he had spoken to Foreign Affairs ministry, which had assured him that talks would resume soon.

Speaking after a consultative meeting with miraa stakeholders on Tuesday, Mr Murungi said the government was committed to talks that would allow resumption of the exports.

He said before the escalation of the diplomatic tiff, the two countries had already drafted an agreement on how miraa exports would resume.

“The agreement also covered a range of other trade pacts including how Somalia would export their products to Kenya. The MOU was sent to Mogadishu last week and we were waiting for their response so that a signing ceremony would be arranged,” he said.

“But we were shocked to hear that the ambassador had been expelled.

“The Foreign Affairs ministry has assured us that there are no such allegations of interference with the elections and officials are already dealing with the situation,” he added.

The meeting was a follow up of another one held in Nairobi last month when Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i promised the matter would be resolved in two weeks.

Also present were deputy governor Titus Ntuchiu, Trade, Tourism and Cooperatives CEC Maingi Mugambi and several MCAs.

The chairman of the committee Moses Lechoro said they had met several leaders across the sector and were confident that the issues would be addressed.