3 April 2019

Kenya-Somalia Mend Fences With Envoys Due Back in Stations

Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Capital FM
The meeting between Kenya and Somalia delegations that was held in Nairobi.

The meeting between Kenya and Somalia delegations was held in Nairobi Wednesday

Kenya and Somalia are set to normalise diplomatic relations after nearly two months of diplomatic tensions over a maritime border dispute.

Foreign Ministers of both countries expressed "a strong desire to normalise relations," with an agreement to allow their respective ambassadors return to their diplomatic postings in Nairobi and Mogadishu following a meeting in Nairobi on Wednesday.

According to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and her Somalia counterpart Ahmed Issa Awad discussed outstanding issues arising from Somalia's decision to offer potential oil fields lying in a disputed 62,000 square mile Indian Ocean triangle to foreign investors at a London auction on February 7.

"We reaffirmed our strong desire to normalise relations and agreed, as a first step, to have our ambassadors return to their stations," Kenya's Foreign Affairs office tweeted.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau led the MFA protest at Somalia's move summoning Ambassador Lt. General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo for what he as "urgent consultations" while referring the horn of Africa country envoy to Mogadishu for the same.

In a strongly-worded statement issued on February 16, Amb Kamau described actions by Mogadishu as an "unparalleled affront on Kenya" and an "illegal grab" that will not go unanswered.

"This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes," Amb Kamau said at the time.

Signs of warming relations between the two States emerged on early last month when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia mediated talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia's Mohammed Abdulahi.

Although State House did not release an official communiqué of the meeting held in Nairobi on March 6, Ahmed's office said the parties had resolved to amicably resolve differences of the maritime border dispute which is before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

"Through the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohammed Abdullahi met this morning to discuss extensively on the source of the two countries dispute. As an outcome both agreed to work towards peace and to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions," Ahmed's office said.

A translated message issued by President Abdullahi's office said the meeting discussed recent diplomatic tensions adding Somalia and Kenya had committed to strengthen their working relationship.

He expressed gratitude to Ahmed for "spearheading the dialogue aimed at restoring the positive working relations that exist between the Somali and Kenyan government" while describing the talks as fruitful

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