Kenya, Somalia in fresh tiff after envoys recalled

Tuesday, December 1st, 2020 00:00 |
President Mohammed Farmajo yesterday ordered the Kenya’s Ambassador Lucas Tumbo to leave the country. Photo/PD/FILE

The Somali government has accused Kenya of interfering with the electoral process in Jubbaland in the latest diplomatic tiff between the two countries.

Jubbaland, Kenya’s ally, is one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states.

For what they termed as “overt and blatant interferences” in internal affairs of the country, especially in the regional state of Jubbaland, President Mohammed Farmajo yesterday ordered the Kenya’s Ambassador Lucas Tumbo to leave the country “for consultations”

Mogadishu also recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Mohamud Ahmed Nur Tarzan amid growing suspicion of political interference by Nairobi.

“In recent weeks, it has become apparent to the Federal Government of Somalia that the Kenyan government is placing great political pressure on the regional President of Jubbaland, Axmed Maxamed Islaan (Madobe) in order to pursue its political and economic interests in Somalia,” Mohamed Ali Nur, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.

The statement continued: “The government took this decision while preserving its national sovereignty after it appeared that Kenya was deliberately interfering in the affairs of Somalia, particularly Jubbaland,”

“The Federal Government of Somalia understands that as a result of the Kenyan government’s political interferences in the internal affairs of Somalia, the regional President of Jubbaland, has reneged on the election agreement that was reached on September 17 in Mogadishu,” the statement added.

However, the statement did not elaborate further on the alleged interference or the agreement the Jubbaland president had reneged on.

Regional security 

The foreign ministry further warned that Kenya’s actions threaten to hinder the stability, security and development of the entire region.

“For that reason, the Federal Government of Somalia recalls the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Somalia to the Republic of Kenya, Maxamed Ahmed Nur Tarzan, and instructs the Ambassador of the Republic of Kenya to Federal Republic of Somalia, Lucas Tumbo, to depart to Kenya for consultation.”

 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 row at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a dispute over the ownership a large area in the Indian Ocean, located along the border between the two countries and rich in oil and gas reserves.

The two countries restored ties a few months later. However, Kenya’s continued hold over the Jubbaland regional state and its President Ahmed Madobe has also worsened the situation.

For reasons known to them, Kenya backs Ahmed Mohamed Islam better known as ‘Madobe’ administration because of its own security and regional interests.

Security interests

Kenya has its troops under African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom) deployed in Jubbaland together with Ethiopia, and has been keen to have the region, which stretches right along its 700km (430 mile) border with Somalia, as a buffer zone against militant group al-Shabaab.

Two weeks ago, a team led Foreign Affairs PS Ambassador Macharia Kamau was received by Somalia envoy Mohamed Ali Nur.

The PS said Kenya is looking at trade and business opportunities in the Horn of Africa nation that is increasingly attracting foreign investment. The talks focused on regional cooperation, business among other issues. 

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