Somalia restoring ties with Kenya after nearly six months

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, left, and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta [File: Feisal Omar/Reuters].

Somalia says ties cut after dispute will resume on the basis of ‘non-interference in each other’s affairs’.

Somalia has said it is restoring diplomatic ties with neighbouring Kenya after it severed relations in December, accusing Nairobi of meddling in its affairs. Relations between the countries have also been tense over the ownership of potential oil and gas deposits, some of which lie off the coast of Jubbaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states.

“The Federal Government of Somalia announces that in keeping with the interests of good neighbourliness, it has resumed diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kenya,” the Ministry of Information said in a statement on Thursday.

“The two governments agree to keep friendly relations between the two countries on the basis of principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.”

The statement thanked Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, whom it credited with playing a part in the reconciliation, and said the thaw had been welcomed by Kenya.

Nairobi said it took note of the statement and was looking forward “to further normalisation of relations by the Somali authorities”.

“The ministry of foreign affairs acknowledges the continued support that has been extended from the international community, and in particular the government of Qatar, in efforts to normalise the diplomatic relations between Somalia and Kenya,” it said in a statement.

State House in Nairobi tweeted on Thursday afternoon that President Uhuru Kenyatta “received a special message” from Emir Al Thani that was delivered by Qatar’s special envoy of the foreign minister.

Somalia cut ties on December 15 after Kenya hosted the leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by the central government in Mogadishu.

The country has long bristled over what it calls Kenya’s meddling in regions over its border, while Nairobi has accused Mogadishu of using it as a scapegoat for its own political problems.

In November, Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own from Nairobi after accusing Kenya of interfering in the electoral process in Jubbaland.

The pair have also engaged in a long-running territorial dispute over a stretch of the Indian Ocean claimed by both nations believed to hold valuable deposits of oil and gas, and have sought international arbitration over the matter.

The dispute over which nation controls access to the lucrative deposits escalated in early 2019 after Somalia decided to auction off oil and gas blocks in a disputed maritime area, prompting Kenya to recall its ambassador from Mogadishu in February of that year.

The two countries had revived ties in November of the same year.

Both are at present before the World Court to adjudicate the maritime boundary dispute.

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