Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry says it regrets “the inadvertent and inappropriate” presence of Somaliland’s flag at President Uhuru Kenyatta’s annual diplomatic address in Nairobi.
In a Note Verbale responding to Somalia Ambassador to Kenya Mohamud Ahmed Nur’s formal protest on Tuesday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it affirms its recognition of the sovereignty of “one Federal Somalia Government and the integrity of the Federal Somali state”.
On Tuesday, Ambassador Ahmed Nur walked out of a meeting hosted by President Kenyatta in Nairobi over the presence of Somaliland’s representative Mohamed Barawani at State House Nairobi.
In his protest note, Ambassador Nur said by inviting Barawani and himself at the event was a “violation of the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Somalia” as far as international law is concerned.
“It is unfortunate that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya has intentionally invited a person from the Somaliland region of Somalia to the briefing of the Diplomatic Corps by H.E Uhuru Kenyatta and to provide equal privileges at that of the Sovereign State despite the protest made by the Somalia Ambassador accredited to Kenya H.E Amb. Mohamoud Ahmed Nur, who eventually left the briefing,” the note read in part, further demanding an explanation of the situation.
The event brought together foreign diplomats and based in Nairobi and Kenyan diplomats abroad in what was widely seen as bidding him goodbye ahead of the August 9 General Election.
Ambassador Nur left in a huff after he spotted Somaliland’s representative with the breakaway region’s flag at the venue.
In a rejoinder, Somaliland said as an independent country, it has a right to make a decision to strengthen its mutual relationship with Kenya, which is also independent.
“The irrelevant statement from the failed administration of Somalia shows nothing but only failure and irresponsibility. The Republic of Somaliland and The Republic of Kenya are two independent countries, which has (sic) the right decision to strengthen their mutual relationship, ” the tweet said.
It is, however, not the first time Somalia is protesting the relations between Kenya and Somaliland.
In December 2020, it cut ties with Kenya after Somaliland’s leader Muse Bihi visited Nairobi and held talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Announcing the severance of the ties on state-run SNTV, Somalia Minister of Information Osman Dubbe accused Kenya of constant violation of Somalia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In a tweet that the Foreign Affairs ministry deleted, Somalia said Bihi’s visit must be treated with all contempt it deserved.
“Somaliland is the federal Member State of Somalia. It, therefore, has no legitimacy to directly deal with Kenya especially now that we have severed our diplomatic ties. Muse Bihi’s visit to Nairobi undermines the sovereignty of Somalia and must be treated with the contempt it deserves,” the tweet said.
In January 2022, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo said Nairobi considers Somalia as one entity with federal regions under autonomous administrations.
“Somaliland has not submitted to us any application to recognise them as a separate entity from Somalia. And so for us, we will deal with Somalia again as a friendly neighbour, accepting that they have federal units and we will engage those federal units in a way that sustains the unity of Somalia and friendship with Kenya,” Omamo said during the launch of a report on the Foreign ministry’s work since 2020.
Somaliland has been lobbying for international recognition.
Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga, one of the two frontrunners in the August General Election has publicly endorsed Somaliland’s bid, further asking the African Union and the United Nations to recognize its divorce from Somalia.
“AU needs to wake up to the reality that it is not going to be possible again to bring these two countries together, and recognize them as two separate countries,” Raila said during Bihi’s visit, adding that he does not regret making the same remarks earlier while in the UK.
“I have talked in the UN, and I have talked in the London Chatham house. I said, and I have no regret and I will say it again that Somaliland is a reality, that the world has got to live with,” Raila said.