Uhuru sends Matiang’i-led team to Addis over Somalia border standoff
By Cyrus Ombati | March 10th 2020
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i met Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed over efforts to de-escalate tensions between Kenya and Somlaia.
Matiang’i and his delegation flew to Addis Ababa Tuesday for the meeting following a similar one in Mogadishu with President Mohamed Farmaajo with Farmajo agreeing to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi at a date to be announced.
Interior ministry said Matiang’i had been sent by President Uhuru for a meeting with Ali.
“Interior CS Matiang’i led a team of high-ranking government officials sent by President Uhuru to hold talks with Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ali with a view to identifying more collaborative approaches to advance Kenya's mutual cross-border relations with Somalia,” a statement said.
Details of the meeting were not available.
The move came as Somalia’s international partners called for cooperation and dialogue between Jubbaland State authorities and the Federal Government of Somalia and demanded that all actors exercise restraint and avoid actions that could spark violence.
“We urgently call upon all actors to exercise restraint, to reduce the presence of security forces in Gedo, and to avoid any actions that could spark violence. We note the importance of stability and good cooperation among Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in their common border area where they have shared security interests,” a joint statement said.
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The statement said the partners welcome the communication between President Farmajo and President Uhuru on March 5 and encouraged the leaders to continue to de-escalate tensions, to cooperate on border security, and to form a joint committee to address issues of diplomacy and trade as they agreed.
“The partners regard the engagement between the leaders as a necessary step, and underscore the importance of continued direct communication between Somalia and Kenya. The partners thank the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) for the outreach and providing good offices; and urge continuation of this dialogue until lasting solutions are in place.”
It was signed by African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), Denmark, Ethiopia, EU, Germany, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Italy, Sweden, UK, US and the UN.
They expressed grave concern at the build-up of security forces in the Gedo region of Jubbaland, Somalia, and clashes in the vicinity of Belet Hawo on March 2 that have resulted in the displacement of civilians and casualties.
Both forces have in the past been united in fighting Al-shabaab but the latest developments have forced the US government to intervene and prompted Uhuru and Farmajo to speak on the phone last Thursday and announced that committees would be formed to discuss border security.
Ethiopia too put pressure on Farmajo and asked him to speak directly with President Uhuru. This according to sources was aimed at deescalating the tensions that had started to benefit militants, especially in Gedo region.
The tension started last year when Somalia refused to withdraw a maritime boundary case at the International Court of Justice.
The ICJ will hear, and decide, the case this June. Somalia is angered by Kenya’s move to host fugitive Jubbaland security minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur.
The fighting last Monday prompted Kenya to tell Somalia, to cease and desist from the unwarranted provocations at the main border.
President Uhuru chaired a special session of the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the unwarranted attack on Kenya’s territorial integrity and sovereignty by Somalia.
This came a day after 11 Kenyan MPs from North Eastern visited Mogadishu and met with President Farmajo and local intelligence chiefs.
The Somali troops had been camping in the region for the past month planning a raid to capture the fugitive Jubbaland minister, who has been hiding in the county.
The official arrived in Mandera town on January 30 and was booked into a local hotel after he escaped from a Mogadishu prison where he had been held since August 31, 2019.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has been patrolling the town even as local leaders urged workers to resume work.
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