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Diplomatic Row Hits New Low as Somalia Bans Meetings in Kenya

By Eddy Mwanza
Sunday May 26, 2019

The Kenya-Somalia strained relations sunk even further following a new directive from the Ministry of Health & Human Services on Saturday.

In a letter addressed to UN agencies, donors and International partners, the Director-General, Dr Abdullahi Hashi Ali, disclosed that Somalia dignitaries and representatives would no longer attend meetings scheduled to be held in Nairobi.

“The ministry informs all its partners that representative from the ministry will not attend all planned and upcoming meetings, workshops, seminars and training to be held in Nairobi,” an excerpt of the letter shared by RTN Somali TV disclosed.

The government of Somalia went on to urge its various international partners to seek alternative countries as suitable destinations for future meetings.

Image of the letter from the Ministry of Health & Human Services of Somalia

Kenya’s decision to ban direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi coupled with the recent detention of top Somalia government officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) was cited as the main reason for the new directive.

“Due to the recent travel issues to Nairobi, Kenya. The ministry highly encourages those events to be held inside the country or be moved to alternative countries for ease of travel to ministry representatives,” a section of the letter disclosed.

The orders are seen as a tactic employed by Mogadishu to reduce contact with Nairobi amid the escalating diplomatic row over a maritime border issue that has dragged on for several years to date.

Somalia President, Mohammed Farmaajo, had on Friday made the headlines after he avoided using a connecting flight via Nairobi on his way to congratulate the recently elected president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Kenya on its end has been flexing its diplomatic muscles in its tiff with Somalia, which it accuses of continuing to violate its territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons by launching investment programmes in the disputed area.

Some of the methods President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government has employed include withdrawing privileges given to senior Somali government officials, resuming stringent measures for Somali aircraft, as well as tactical withdrawal of Kenyan security forces from areas they had liberated in Somalia.

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