Kenya: Somalia Summons Kenyan Envoy Over Airspace Violation

Kenyan Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Somalia Lucas Tumbo attends a media briefing in Nairobi (file photo).
11 October 2019

Somalia summoned the Kenyan ambassador to Mogadishu on Thursday to protest violation of its airspace, amid soaring relations between the neighbour countries over a maritime border dispute.

Lt Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo was summoned by Somali State Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Mr Abdulkadir Ahmed-Kheri Abdi who handed him a protest note demanding an explanation over the said incident on October 5 when an aircraft flew from Nairobi directly to Kismayu "without official permission" from Mogadishu.

“Somalia strongly protest this violation and will not accept any encroachment on its air, sea and land borders, and calls on Kenya to respond to this breach while its troops stationed in the Lower Jubba region are part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom),” reads the statement.

Kenyan soldiers are part of the African Union-backed Amisom, mandated by the United Nations, to combat Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia.

Mogadishu describes the action as a contradiction of all principles of good neighbourliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of state.

MEASURES

According to aviation regulations, Somalia has authority to regulate civilian aircraft flying in its airspace including licensing and taking action against violators.

However, Mogadishu is yet to take any measures against the airline operating the said plane.

The Fokker 50, is registered in Kenya as 5Y-JXJ but leased to Jubba Airways, a private-owned Somali carrier that is licenced to operate in several Somali cities.

But Somalia has already filed a protest at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

When it did so on Monday, Kenyan officials argued Mogadishu was running away from its own responsibility.

RESTRICTIONS

And even as Somalia summoned the Kenyan envoy, Mogadishu had reportedly lifted the travel restrictions that required all flights heading to Kismayu to first land in Mogadishu before proceeding.

On Thursday, another Jubba Airways flight landed in Kismayu, carrying various politicians including former state presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. Also on board were former Planning minister, now leader of Wadajir Party, Abdishakur Abdirahman.

Mr Abdirahman is the man who signed the controversial agreement with Kenya’s former Foreign minister Moses Wetang’ula to resolve the maritime border through negotiations at the United Nations.

The Somali parliament would later reject the MoU, but when Mogadishu sued Nairobi at the International Court of Justice in August 2014, the court validated the agreement but still said it had jurisdiction to hear the sea border case because the MoU had not locked out other options.

JUBBALAND POLITICS

In September, Somalia imposed a direct flight restriction to Kismayu in a bid to stop a controversial inauguration ceremony of Jubbaland president Ahmed Madobe.

Mr Madobe's re-election victory in August was endorsed by Nairobi but rejected by Mogadishu.

The flight that sparked the latest diplomatic tiff was carrying former Somali state presidents Sharif Hassan Aden of Southwest and Galmudug's Abdikarim Hussein Guled. Several Somali MPs were also on board heading to Kismayu ahead of the planned swearing-in ceremony of Madobe.

Mogadishu says it annulled the August poll in which Madobe won, although Jubbaland argues there is no legal basis to interfere with elections in a federal state.

 

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