Kenya exploring diplomatic options to mend ties with Somalia

Hours after Somalia severed diplomatic relations with Kenya and gave Kenyan diplomatic staff seven days to leave the country, Government Spokesman retired colonel Cyrus Oguna says Nairobi has constituted a committee to examine the issues causing rifts between her and Mogadishu and will explore diplomatic means to resolve them.

Mogadishu's drastic move comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted President  Muse Bihi of the break-away Somaliland at State House Nairobi on Monday.

Addressing the media on Tuesday afternoon in Nairobi, Col. Oguna lamented the deplorable diplomatic relations between the two countries adding that a lot was at stake.

“There is a committee that has been put in place to be able to look into the issues that are coming between these two neighbouring countries that have a lot of history between the two of them. Once the issues are addressed then the press will be notified,” Oguna said.

Oguna said Kenya and Somalia have enjoyed shared history and fate and it would regrettable for issues to crop up driving a wedge between them.

He said, “All of us are aware that Kenya and Somalia have a lot of factors that bring us together. We have a historical background, economic ties, and KDF that is in Somalia in helping in searching for peace.” 

Government Spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna addressing the media on BBI, Covid-19 and locust invasion at KICC, Nairobi on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Restoring peace and accommodating at least 2,000 refugees in the Daadab and Hagadera camps are some of the missions he said Kenya and Somalia jointly conducted, adding the sense of fragility to the matter.

However, he cautioned the move will only be in conformity with the diplomatic principle of “scratch my back I scratch yours.”

“The issues to do with diplomacy and international relations work on the principle of scratch my back I scratch your back, and as a country, you have been kind and accommodative.”

The diplomatic approach by Kenya comes after Mogadishu ambushed Nairobi with a statement in the wee hours of the night, recalling all her diplomats and ordering Kenyan officials to vacate the capital within seven days.

Somalia Minister of Information Osman Abukar Dubbe made the announcement at a state-run SNTV at 1:40 am on Monday, blaming Kenya for meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

‘’Somalia wants all its diplomats to go back to Mogadishu and Kenyan diplomats have 7 days to leave the country,’’ he stated.

The landmark announcement, marking the new ugly twist of the diplomatic relationship came after Somalia and Somaliland leaders traded blames on Twitter after the leader of the autonomous region visited Nairobi on Monday.

President Muse Bihi jetted in Kenya to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta at Nairobi’s statehouse to discuss bilateral ties that would culminate in establishing trade relations and joint effort in maintaining security. 

Somalia accuses Kenya of violating sovereign and territorial integrity. Both countries have a long-running maritime territorial dispute over an oil-rich continental shelf with the matter pending in the International Court of Justice.

October 16, 2011, KDF tanks rolled into Southern Somalia to pursue insurgents group Al Shabaab after a series of kidnappings of tourists along the border and they are there under the auspices of Amisom.

Kenya-Somalia relations began to crack on November 30, 2020, when the Horn of Africa country expelled Kenyan ambassador Maj. Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tambo on similar claims.

"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," said Amb. Mohamed Ali-Nur Haji, the Somalia Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary, as he addressed the state.