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Explore dialogue, AU advises on Kenya, Somalia tensions

By James Wanzala and PSCU | Dec 21st 2020 | 2 min read
President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the 38th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Djibouti. [PSCU]

The growing diplomatic tension between Kenya and Somalia featured at the 38th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) meeting held in Djibouti yesterday.

President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the meeting convened by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok of Sudan, who is the current Chairperson of the Igad Assembly.

It was attended by presidents Ismail Omar Guelleh (Djibouti), Mohamed Abdullahi (Somalia) and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.

It was African Union Commission (AUC) Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat who broached the Kenya-Somalia row, noting it was a major source of concern for the AU.

Mr Faki called for dialogue to ease the tension, saying the two countries shared a long history of good neighborliness, and citing Kenya’s contribution of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) and its hosting of a large population of Somali refugees as key reference points.

At the meeting, South Sudan and Uganda were represented by Vice President Rebecca Garang and Amb Rebecca Otengo (the country’s envoy to Djibouti) respectively.

In his welcoming remarks, host President Ismail Guelleh applauded the progress made in the search for sustainable peace and stability in the region despite disruptions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and other setbacks such as floods and the desert locust invasion.

On Ethiopia, Faki urged Igad member States to help deal with the humanitarian crisis arising out of the conflict in its Tigray region.

Speaking just before the leaders retreated into a closed-door session, Prime Minister Hamdok said the meeting was called to discuss ongoing regional peace and security processes in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Uhuru, who arrived in Djibouti on Sunday, was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo.

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