Somalia and Kenya Restore Diplomatic Ties

Somalia announced Thursday it has restored its diplomatic relations with Kenya, following talks between leaders of the neighboring countries, mediated by Qatar.

During a press conference in Mogadishu, Somalia’s Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Al-Adala made the announcement, saying that Somalia was resuming ties with Nairobi it severed last year.

“The federal government of Somalia, “in keeping with the interests of good neighborliness,” announces it has restored its friendly relations with Kenya,” said Al-Adala. “The agreement was based on the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.”

Al-Adala did not provide details about how the talks were initiated between the leaders of the two countries, but he said they came about in large part through the efforts of Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

“The presidents of both countries are grateful and thankful to the emir of the state of Qatar for his good efforts in this regard,” Al-Adala said.

Kenya’s government did not immediately respond to inquiries by VOA Somali regarding this matter.

However, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Thursday on Twitter that he met with Qatar’s envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, Dr. Mutlaq bin Majed Al-Qahtani.

Qatari diplomat Qahtani has been in the region since May 1. Diplomats say he was dispatched by Doha to help mediate Somalia’s political crisis, which resulted from delayed elections.

During a visit to Mogadishu, he met with Somali Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble, along with other government leaders. He also met with members of the leaders of the opposition groups.

In Hargeisa, the seat of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, he met with Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi.

In November, Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own from Nairobi over claims of interference with its domestic politics regarding the electoral process. These are accusations Kenya has consistently denied.

In February 2019, Kenya recalled its ambassador after Mogadishu decided to auction oil and gas exploration blocks at the center of their maritime rights dispute. The two countries had temporarily revived ties in November the same year.

As diplomatic relations worsened, Mogadishu completely severed ties with Nairobi on December 15, 2020.

The two countries also are feuding over parts of the Indian Ocean believed to be rich in oil and gas, and at present the maritime boundary dispute is being adjudicated before the World Court.

The case filed by Somalia in 2014 at the International Court of Justice, the United Nation’s highest court for disputes between states, was heard by the court in the Hague in March this year. Kenya did not participate in those hearings.

Source: Voice of America

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