President Uhuru Kenyatta is set to host Somaliland President Muse Bihi in the backdrop of a buildup of frosty relations between her and neighbour Somalia.
According to Somaliland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President Bihi left Hargeisa on Sunday 13, for a three-day official visit to Kenya. He is accompanied by several members of his cabinet.
The visit by the leader of the self-declared country comes days after Mogadishu expelled Kenya’s top diplomat to Somalia Maj Gen (rtd) Lucas Tambo over continuous ‘interference’ in its internal affairs.
Mogadishu accused Nairobi of meddling in its upcoming elections by putting pressure on the regional leader of Jubaland, Ahmed Mohamed Islaam Madobe, to walk back on a poll agreement brokered two months ago.
The President and his delegation will meet Kenyan officials, including holding bilateral talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
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This is the first official visit to Nairobi by President Muse Bihi Abdi since he took over as the leader of Somaliland in 2017.
President Kenyatta is in pursuit of direct diplomatic representation in Hargeisa.
Somaliland relationship with Kenya is guided and based on deep and mutual respect.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kenya has no diplomatic presence in Somaliland at the moment. And, the visit by President Bihi is expected to provide a platform through which the two countries can co-operate in maintaining security and initiating economic ties.
“Stronger relations between Kenya and Somaliland would bolster security, economic and social interactions between the two parties. Somaliland is an important partner in the Horn of Africa region in the fight against terrorism and particularly Al-Shabaab,” the ministry said on Sunday.
The initiative is expected to play a conduit role for investment outflow from Nairobi to Hargeisa, with Kenya Airways being lined up to make flights a possibility.
"Intensified cooperation is being sought in the banking and financial sector to accelerate more investment opportunities for both parties. Kenya Airways flights connecting Nairobi and Hargeisa to enhance trade and movement is carefully being explored," the ministry noted.