Stop provoking Kenya, Uhuru warns Somalia as row deepens

Thursday, March 5th, 2020 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with World Bank Vice President Hafez Ghanem at a meeting at State House, Nairobi in the past. Photo/PD/PSCU

Eric Wainaina @EWainaina

The diplomatic row between Nairobi and Mogadishu escalated yesterday with President Uhuru Kenyatta warning Somalia to stop provoking Kenya.

He, however, added that despite the hostile actions, especially the spill over of the March 2 fighting between Somalia’s Army and forces of Jubbaland state into Kenya, his government has acted with restraint.

In a terse and no-nonsense statement read by State House Spokesperson Kanze Dena, Uhuru dismissed as baseless accusations and invalid allegations that Kenya was interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs. 

The Head of State, who yesterday chaired a special session of the National Security Council (NSC), was reacting to a speech by Permanent Mission of the Somali Republic to the United Nations, Ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman in New York on Friday where he accused Nairobi of fuelling instability in his country.

Initiate UN action

He threatened to initiate UN action against Kenya, which he accused of being a “destabilising force” by allegedly interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs and violating the UN Charter by engaging in “anti-peace actions”.

But yesterday, the Kenyan government said it has not taken the envoy’s remarks lightly. Beside a protest letter by Nairobi in which it described Mogadishu’s claims as “fabricated for political expediency,” the matter was yesterday discussed in the NSC meeting.

The State House statement said the  February 27, 2020 remarks by Osman was part of Mogadishu’s continued smear campaign against Kenya, having issued another irritating statement on February 5.

“The baseless accusations and invalid allegations made by the Federal Government of Somalia that Kenya is interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs; are part of a growing and persistent pattern of ill intent to use Kenya as a scapegoat and a tool to justify challenges in Somalia for political reasons. Kenya will not accept to be used in that manner,” read the statement in part.

The ambassador, who never gave any specific incident to support his claims, accused Kenya of interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs and violating the UN Charter by engaging in “anti-peace actions”.

The council also described the March 2, attack in Mandera where a fight between Jubbaland Forces and the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) forces that spilt over to the Kenyan side, as an act of provocation and part of Somalia’s has continued to poke its fingers on Kenyan’s eyes.

One person, believed to be a soldier from Somalia, has been killed and 10 others  were injured mostly by stray bullets as Nairobi  accused Mogadishu of violating its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“This action amounts to an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya.

In keeping with our long-standing and distinguished tradition in peace keeping and peace building in the region and beyond and in particular—in Somalia; Kenya acted with total restraint,”said  State House.

Somalia, Dena said, was in pursuit of “short term political expediency” to create artificial fissures in the relations between the Republic of Kenya and it, a thing which it wants it to stop and instead focus on fostering stability by defeating al Shabaab and its international network .

“We, therefore, urge the Federal Government of Somalia, to cease and desist from the unwarranted provocations and focus on managing its internal affairs for the welfare of her people; defeating terrorism; and advancing the cause of peace, security and stability in the region,” she said.

  The tensions between the two neighbouring nations have  continued to escalate despite President Uhuru and his Somalia counterpart, Mohamed Farmajo, meeting in last September at the sidelines of the 74th  United Nations General Assembly convention in New York, signaling possible dialogue over the maritime boarder dispute.  Kenya and Somalia are locked in bitter fight over the Indian Ocean border in a case that was launched by Mogadishu at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague after bilateral talks to resolve the stalemate flopped.   

Maritime dispute

The two nations are claiming control over a 100,000-square-kilometre area in the Indian Ocean, a rich gas and oil and other natural resources reservoir. 

Somalia filed the boundary delimitation dispute on August 28, 2014, staking a claim on an estimated 62,000 square miles oil-rich triangle in the Indian Ocean and has been seeking to have the sea boarder extended along the land boarder.

The two countries were locked in another row after the Federal Government of Somalia filed a complaint at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in October last year against Kenya over violation of its airspace.

Their feud came after Kenya allowed a flight to fly from Nairobi directly to Kismayu Airport against Somalia Civil Aviation Authority’s (SCAA) regulations that all flights must make stopovers at Aden Abdulle International Airport in Mogadishu before proceeding to their final destinations.

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