Somalia expels Kenyan ambassador over 'interference'

Kenya Ambassador to Somalia Maj. Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tambo at a past press conference. He has been expelled from Mogadishu. [File, Standard]

Somalia has recalled its ambassador to Kenya and told Kenya’s envoy to leave over "continuous" interference in its internal affairs.

Mogadishu maintains that Nairobi is meddling in its upcoming elections by putting pressure on the regional president of Jubaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islaam Madobe, to walk back on a poll agreement brokered two months ago.

Under the deal, Somalia leaders agreed on revising the election model so it is based on constituency caucuses which will vote for parliamentary legislators.

Somalia Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Amb. Mohamed Ali-Nur Haji said on Sunday that Nairobi had put political pressure on Mr Madobe to renege on the arrangement.

"Somalia expresses its regret in the government of Kenya's overt and blatant interferences in the internal and political affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia which has the potential to be a hindrance to the stability, security and development of the entire region," Amb. Mohamed said in an address on state TV.

He said Kenya was sabotaging the upcoming poll to pursue its political and economic interests in Somalia.

"Somalia understands that as a result of the political interferences, the regional president of Jubaland has reneged on the election agreement that was reached on September 17, 2020, in Mogadishu," he said.

He added that they had summoned their envoy to Nairobi Mr Maxamed Axmed Nuur and instructed Kenya’s Maj. Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo to leave Somalia "for consultations" in Nairobi.

The plan

Somalia is due for elections before February 2021 and recently made a deal with the five regional leaders on how to run the poll.

President Mohamed Abdullahi — popularly known as Farmajo — and who is expected to seek a second term, had promised a democratic one-man-one-vote election, a first for the war-torn country since 1969.

However, regional leaders preferred an indirect system where delegates pick parliamentarians who in turn pick the president.

Before the current deal, Farmajo struck another one on August 20, 2020, but it was rejected by Puntland and Jubaland states which claimed they were not represented in the talks.

According to the revised agreement, planning for the election was due to start on November 1.

Mogadishu has in the past claimed observers and other nations were using federal states to gain control in the election process.

It has accused Kenya of infringing on its sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.

"Somalia strongly upholds the principles of interdependence and maintaining our friendly relations with our neighbouring countries. However, it believes that the Kenyan government’s actions are not in line with the internationally recognised diplomatic relations enjoyed by sovereign states," Amb. Mohamed said.

Kenya, through the foreign affairs ministry headed by Amb. Raychelle Omamo has not formally responded to the claims.