Verdict: No proof of Kenya meddling in Somalia affairs

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 00:00 |
President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo, during a joint press conference at a Nairobi Hotel in November 2019. Photo/PD/File

Zaddock Angira and Alvin Mwangi

Kenya is neither interfering with the internal affairs of Somalia nor arming militia to destabilise the neighbouring country.

 A joint team appointed to investigate the claims by Somalia has said there is no evidence, to confirm the concerns that had caused a diplomatic spat, between Kenya and Somalia prompting a recall of diplomats.

The team made up of diplomats,  military officers and an Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) representative, was sent to Kenya and Somalia with a mission to collect facts and data justifying the respective positions of the two countries.

“The commission considers that these grievances, some of which are long-standing, are not sufficient to justify a diplomatic separation between Kenya and Somalia.

It is true that the Federal Government of Somalia is sovereign in its decisions.

However, on closer examination, it cannot help but be considered disproportionate and unproductive, because the two countries are intimately linked politically, humanely and economically,” says part of a report by the team.

Diplomatic crisis

 The report listed the consequences of the diplomatic stand-off on more than 3,000 Somali children attending Kenyan schools on the other side of the border, the hindrance to the functioning of African Union Mission to Somalia (Amisom), which has since been experiencing difficulties in relief operations among Kenyan troops and the economic impact of the embargo on khat in the agricultural region of Meru is a perfect illustration of this.

 The team, recommended that more diplomatic efforts be deployed at the highest level in order to reconcile the two sisterly countries of Kenya and Somalia. 

The investigation followed a directive by the 38th Igad Summit held in Djibouti on December 20, 2020, during which the regional Heads of State and Government meeting, discussed the diplomatic crisis that has affected the relationship between Kenya and Somalia.

 Somalia cut off ties with Kenya on December 15, 2020 after recalling its ambassador and expelling Kenya’s representative-Lucas Tumbo from Mogadishu.

During the discussions, Somalia President Abdillahi Farmajo, made any resumption of diplomatic relations with Kenya conditional, on the withdrawal of the armed forces that Kenya has gathered at the border and the end of the armed militia hostile to his government that he maintains on its soil.

 “The Kenyan authorities have recognised Ahmed Madobe as President of Jubaland after elections that were not validated by the central government,” Farmajo complained.

 Kenya denied all the claims when the team met top officials led by Defence Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and Chief of Kenya Defence Forces Gen Robert Kibochi.

 At the end of the meeting with the high-level working group, the commission held another meeting with ambassadors and senior officers of the Kenyan forces, to inquire about the situation.

 During these overflights, members of the commission were able to observe Somali military troops massed on the border.

The commission was unable to identify an additional camp populated by Somali militias in the overlooked area under control.”

 The team said that there is sufficient evidence that Kenyan aircraft entered the Somali territory in disregard of the provisions of the Convention on Civil Aviation signed in Chicago on 7 December 1944.

 “In disagreement with the local authorities in Jubaland, the federal government had instructed all aircraft to land in Mogadishu. Kenyan planes braved the ban to defeat a total air embargo that provides no exemptions for any reason, including humanitarian evacuations,” the report stated.

Contest the proximity

 On the recognition and collaboration with the regional State of Jubaland, the commission said it has no evidence of such recognition.

 “The participation of two influential Kenyan political figures, MPs Aden Duale and Youssouf Hadji in the enthronement ceremony of the president of Jubaland does not constitute a recognition.

However, no one can contest the proximity of the Kenyan government to the regional authorities to preserve security on their soil in a region infested by terrorists,” the commission said. 

It added that Kenya has made great human sacrifices to free this region from the Al-Shabaab militia in order to protect itself from the many attacks that have been perpetrated on its soil.

 On the trade of charcoal and sugar in Kismayo, the commission welcomed the diligence with which the issue has been addressed.

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