Somalia parliament in heated debate over border with Kenya

Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Somali MPs terms Kenya's move to build barrier along the Kenya-Somali border as unilateral as Kenya has not consulted the Somali government. 

The barrier that the government seeks to build along the border with Somalia was a subject of heated debate in the Somali Parliament on Saturday.

While debating a motion about the wall in the Somali capital Mogadishu, Somali MPs expressed reservations about the plan, terming the the move as unilateral as Kenya has not consulted the Somali government.

Speaker of the Somali Parliament Prof. Usman Jawaari called on the Kenya government not to take unilateral actions regarding the border without consulting the Somali government in order to build consensus and durable solutions.

"It would not be wise for Kenya to decide where the wall will be built without involving us since that is a shared border. The Somali government should not be ignored in this process," he was quoted by Radio Mogadishu, the official mouthpiece of the Somali Federal Government.

He added, "We don't think constructing a wall along the border offers a sustainable solution to the problem of insecurity and terrorism perpetrated by criminal elements causing chaos to the entire region. Instead we need to work together closely to defeat them."

The Vice Chairperson of Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs Mohammed Dalha claimed that the proposed barrier threatens the nationhood and independence of Somalia.

He called for a review of the plan saying there are better ways to fight cross-border terrorism coming from outlawed groups.

MP Abdi Hashi called on the Somali government to engage the Kenya government to sort out the issue amicably claiming the wall was an "aggression" against Somalia.

According to Radio Mogadishu, most of the MPs in the usually divided house were largely united in expressing reservations about the wall during the heated debate.

Recently, some Somali officials have claimed that the border barrier is not being built on the correct border between the two countries and expressed fear that Somalia may lose huge tracts of land.

In addition, residents of the border town of Bulla Hawo staged demonstrations claiming that the markings on where the wall is to be built has "annexed" territory that belongs to Somalia.

Since reports emerged that the government is planning to build some sort of barrier along the entire length of the 700 kilometer border with Somalia, the issue has generated debate and controversy but it has not been officially debated in the Kenyan parliament to determine its merits and demerits.

The decision to build the wall was floated by Interior Ministry officials in April after the horrific attack on the Garissa University College in which 148 people were killed, mostly unarmed students. Its backers argue that it will help to end the cross border flow of criminals and weapons into Kenya.