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Somalia pledges to pursue peace with Kenya, maintains maritime case to proceed to full hearing

AFRICA
By Patrick Vidija | August 8th 2021

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Cabinet Security Raychelle Omamo with Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Roble in Mogadishu on August 8, 2021.[Courtesy]

Somalia President Mohamed Farmajo has pledged to pursue peace with Nairobi.

This follows a meeting with Kenya's Foreign Affairs CS Raychelle Omamo on Sunday.

Farmajo said following a meeting between Omamo and her Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdirizak Mahamud, his government would pursue peace, stability and good neighbourliness with Kenya.

This brings to an end several months of a diplomatic spat between the two countries.

The relations between the two states have been frosty in recent years, with counter-accusations about interference with domestic affairs, territorial integrity over the Indian Ocean maritime dispute, miraa trade and security.

But after the meeting, the two countries allowed their respective ambassadors to resume their duties in Nairobi and Mogadishu.

Omamo further oversaw the opening of new premises of the Chancery of the Embassy of Kenya in Somalia.

The CS arrived in Mogadishu on her maiden trip to Somalia, even as the country’s government moved to stall any possible agreements until after the elections.

On the eve of her trip, Farmajo issued a decree banning the country’s government institutions from entering agreements or MoUs with foreign sides during the election season.

The decree effected all biding bilateral or multilateral agreements or memorandums of understanding that affect the state’s policies, economy and security.

“This decree suspends, until elections are held, the state institutions including the executive and other institutions, from entering agreements with other countries, institutions and international companies,” the pronouncement said.

The directive, not a first in Somalia, forbid government ministries and other institutions from entering memorandums of understanding or talks that can impact the future of the country, its sovereignty, and the territorial and marine boundaries of the country.

But after Omamo meeting her counterpart and Prime Minister Mohamed Roble, the two countries agreed to expeditiously organise the third session of the Somalia-Kenya Joint Commission for Cooperation through which the two countries will undertake comprehensive discussions and develop clear modalities for implementing commitments in the areas of mutual interests.

This includes diplomatic relations, trade and investment, education and capacity building, agriculture, livestock development, defence and security and people-to-people interactions.

The two ministers said with the resumption of diplomatic stations, this opens a new chapter in bilateral relations to correspond with the aspirations of both governments.

"The two countries have reiterated the importance of regional stability and committed to work together to promote peace and security within the horn of Africa region and beyond," read part of the communique.

While agreeing that threat posed by terrorism, extremism and other organised transitional crimes, the two sides committed to collaborative efforts to eradicate the vices.

The two countries further agreed to convene a technical committee on security and border management to look into issues relating to ease of movement of people, goods and services across the common border.

The meeting they said will come up with practical measures to counter illicit trade and illegal migration.

Somalia however maintained that the maritime dispute with Kenya will be decided by the International Court of Justice.

PM Mohamed Roble said the Somalia government reaffirms that the decision on the maritime dispute is with the International Justice Court, and will wait for its verdict.

This is despite Kenya’s attempt to have political negotiations in the dispute against the ICJ route.  

Roble’s spokesman Mohamed Moalimuu said the two leaders discussed strengthening diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia.

“The minister delivered an official invitation from Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to PM Roble which he accepted. Somalia and Kenya have longstanding historical relations, including diplomacy, security and economics,” Moalimuu said in a statement.

The spokesman said the people of the two nations are bound by many mutual interests and PM Roble has committed to further cement this relationship without compromising their fundamental sovereign matters. 

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