Legislators accuse State of triggering row with Somalia

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Some of the North Eastern legislators Mahamud Mohamed (Mandera senator), Omar Maalim Mohamed (Mandera East), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North-left standing) and Abdi Ibrahim (Lafey) address the press at Parliament Buildings, yesterday. Photo/PD/SAMUEL KARIUKI

Hilary Mageka, Mercy Mwai  and Anthony Mwangi

A secret weekend visit to Somalia by 11 Kenyan legislators yesterday took a new twist with three of them and other Mandera leaders accusing the Kenya government of interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbouring state.

The leaders claimed the government was harbouring and protecting a C who escaped from prison and is wanted for trial in Somalia.

Addressing the press at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi yesterday, the defiant MPs, who are members of Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s Marehan clan, asked the government to hand over Janan for trial.

The stand of the defiant legislators is likely to escalate the already troubled relationship between the two countries, especially over the maritime dispute case at the International Court of Justice and the fallout over the elections in Jubaland.

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Led by Mandera Senator Mahamud Maalim, the MPs who, included Hassan Omar (Mandera East), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Hassan Kulow (Banisa), Adan Haji (Mandera South), Maj (rtd) Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), told President Uhuru Kenyatta  to intervene and take action against those responsible for the war in the region.

 “You know very well that the security minister of Jubaland was being accommodated by the government through the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF).

He has been operating here and leading his forces from Mandera and that is why this morning war broke out at 11.30 am, ”said Maalim.

He added: “We demand that this government takes care of our people, in our borders, we also demanded that the fugitives bordering 100 be taken back to their country so that they can take their business there, we do not want to be involved in this war anymore.

We have been hosting fugitives and we want them taken back to their country.”

The statement comes as soldiers from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) yesterday engaged troops from Jubaland in a day-long fierce battle at the Kenyan border before it spilled over to Mandera town.

FGS troops have been camping at Bulahwa, a town neighbouring Mandera, for the past month, planning a raid to capture a fugitive Jubaland minister, who has been hiding in the county.

The soldiers engaged in a heavy gun fire exchange with the Jubaland soldiers guarding the fugitive for the better part of the day. Later, overpowered Jubaland forces sought refuge at the Mandera Police Station which KDF  had taken over. 

Janan, who escaped from a Mogadishu Prison on January 28 where he had been held since August 31 last year, is said to have arrived in Mandera town on January 30 and was booked into a local hotel.

As controversy continues to bubble over the legislators secret visit to Somalia where they are said to have met President Faramajo and the country’s intelligence chiefs, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi will today make a ruling on whether to a summon them for travelling out the country without requisite clearance.  

And if he rules that they be summoned, the MPs will appear before Powers and Privileges Committee. MPs  are required to inform the Speaker of their foreign travels in writing.

“We are discussing to see how to deal with this matter before I make a ruling today,” Muturi told journalists yesterday.

But the legislators who addressed a press conference defended their colleagues who visited Somalia, insisting that they do not require any permission to make a tour to a foreign country for a day.

“The claim that our colleagues visited Somalia without permission is baseless. We cannot accept this anymore.  We have to be treated like other Kenyans.

Kenya through  KDF, has been supporting a fugitive which cannot be allowed to continue.  We  want the President take action, ” said Omar.

Somali government official who spoke to the People Daily claimed KDF under Amisom is currently “bombing Somali forces with heavy artillery and mortars”.

Sources, who spoke to People Daily   in confidence, have connected the spill over of Somali-Jubaland fights to Kenya to the visit conducted by the Kenyan legislators, who now would face a parliamentary probe for leaving the country without official clearance.

The MPs include six from Mandera, three from Wajir and two from Garissa. They are Kullow Maalim (Banisa), Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West), Ibrahim Abdi (Lafey), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Mohamed Hire (Lagdera), Omar Maalim (Mandera East), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Dr Hassan Dahiye (Daadab), Ahmed Bashane (Tarbaj) and Aden Keynan (Eldas).

Initial reports indicated that the MPs chartered a Freedom Airline flight to Mogadishu on Saturday, upon their arrival, they had dinner with President Farmaajo.

Later, they had a meeting with the Somali National Intelligence Agency (NISA). Their agenda was not disclosed, although they travelled on diplomatic passports and were treated as State guests.

The People Daily has learned that among the agendas on the table, were Somalia government seeking the Kenyans Somali MPs support in case the ICJ ruling favours them.

Secondly, President Farmaajo, who has had strained relationship with Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe, wants the support of the MPs who mostly are from the Garre and Degodia clam to topple his enemey, who is an Ogaden.

However, there is an ulterior motive, which the government strongly believes why the 11 MPs travelled to Somalia via a chartered flight. 

Top among the secret talks agenda could have secession, an issue that has taken centre stage in discussions among the Somali community, especially after the mass withdrawal of teachers from the Northern region over insecurity.

But even as the question rages over whether the MPs were cleared to travel to Somalia, former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow claims  they were authorised by National Intelligence Services(NIS) boss, adding that there was nothing secretive about their travel.

Trip sanctioned

Taking to his Twitter, Billow alleged political demagogues with dislike for Northern Kenya are giving it a spin.

“Let those paranoid about NE people and their leaders know that we are not guests of anyone in Kenya. We can visit Somalia or any other country like others,” he wrote.

His sentiments were shared by former Lagdera MP Farah Maalim, who claimed that the NIS director general, the Inspector General of Police and host of other officers were aware and sanctioned the trip.

“By the way this narrative that MPs trip  to Mogadishu was clandestine is hogwash. We have a government where the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing,” he also wrote on Twitter .

But in an interview, Maalim said Kenyan lawmakers made no mistake or broke any law by meeting with President Farmajo.

The former deputy Speaker said the matter was being sensationalised. “Every politician in the world has friends who they meet without permission from the respective State,” he added.

According to him, the act of seeking of permission from the State to visit or meet foreign delegations, is an old sociologist and communist kind of attitude, when before independence Parliament was under the presidency.

But exiled and controversial lawyer Miguna Miguna on his twitter page claimed “Clearance” from State House is a colonial legacy not grounded in law. 

On his part, Rashid Abdi, a security and migration analyst regretted things might spiral out of control as this year is exceptionally difficult for both Somali and Kenya because of the expected ICJ ruling.

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