Somalia normalises ties with Kenya, asks it to reopen embassy

Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo and Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi in a past meeting/ FILE

Somalia has announced normalisation of diplomatic relations with Kenya and asked Nairobi to reopen its embassy in Mogadishu.

In a note verbale dated June 12, the move is in the spirit of good neighbourliness, and will reciprocally reopen its mission in Nairobi.

“The resumption of full diplomatic relations will be a positive start to the commencement of bilateral discussions between the two nations,”Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Reacting to the development, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs PS Amb Macharia Kamau said they look forward to the resumption of full diplomatic relations

He thanked “all the friends of goodwill”, who helped our two nations rebuild cordial relations.

This comes two days after Kenya reopened its airspace to flights to and from Somalia after a one month ban. In the announcement, Kenya said the move was a show of goodwill in the interest of the two countries, and hoped that it would cause full normalisation of bilateral relations, which have undergone undue strains.

“The government and people of Kenya remain true partners for the peace and prosperity of Somalia and look forward to the renewal of the enduring bonds of friendship and partnership between Kenya and Somalia,” Foreign Affairs ministry said in the June 10 note verbale.

The crew and passengers are expected to observe all Covid-19 protocols, among them possession of a negative PCR certificate conducted within 96 hours of travel other than children under 5 years, and fill in traveller locator form.

Somalia welcomed the move to honour its request to reopen the airspace to its flights, saying it is an important step in the process of enhancing bilateral trade, communication and movement of citizens.

“The positive gesture by the government of Kenya is a starting point to commence negotiations aimed at full normalisation of diplomatic relations between Somalia and Kenya.

“The two brotherly nations have always collaborated in security, trade and mutual cultural relations base on common interests, good neighbourliness, respect for sovereignty and political independence,” the Foreign Affairs ministry said in a press release on June 10.

Somalia also proposed a joint committee to develop modalities that will eventually facilitate full restoration of ties.

Kenya had last month, through the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, sent a Notice to Airmen suspending all flights between the two countries. The suspension was to remain until August 9.

This also comes a week after Somalia accused KDF forces in Amisom of killing civilian using airstrikes in Gedo region.

Djibouti Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf welcomed the rapprochement, saying it is a great development in our IGAD region for the sake of peace and stability.

IGAD spokesperson Nuur Mohamud Sheekh said the move shows the central role diplomacy plays in the region.

“Diplomacy shall always remain the best mechanism for resolving differences between member states,” Sheekh said in a tweet on Sunday.

Somalia severed diplomatic ties with Kenya in December last year, accusing it of violating Somali sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“Somalia made this decision after latest blatant interference by Kenya in Somalia’s internal affairs. The current leadership of Kenya always wanted to create problems in Somalia,” Somali Information Minister Osman Dube said.

In May, Somalia said it had restored diplomatic relations with Kenya after mediation by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Thani and in “in keeping with the interests of good neighbourliness”.

However, Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said there was no movement after the press release, meaning the situation didn’t change.

What followed was bans on flights between the two states, further hurting movement, trade and diplomatic ties.

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