The Somali government announced on Monday it would cut diplomatic ties with neighboring Kenya, citing violations of Somalia’s sovereignty.
Somalia Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe told VOA’s Somali service late Monday the decision had been taken in response to what he called recent political violations and constant, blatant interference by Kenya against Somalia’s sovereignty.
Kenya did not immediately respond to Somalia’s diplomatic action.
Dubbe said Somalia is pulling its diplomats out of Nairobi and has instructed Kenyan diplomats, starting December 15, to leave Mogadishu within seven days.
Already frosty relations between the two countries have deteriorated since November 29, when Somalia recalled its ambassador to Nairobi and instructed Kenya’s ambassador to leave Mogadishu for consultations with his government.
At the time, Somalia accused Kenya of “overt and blatant” interferences in the internal and political affairs of Somalia. Specifically, Somalia accused Kenya of placing “great political pressure” on Somali regional leader Ahmed Mohamed Islam known as Ahmed Madobe of Jubaland, in order to pursue its political and economic interests in Somalia, an official statement said.
Somalia argued that as a result of Kenya’s interference, Ahmed Madobe reneged on the election agreement reached between federal and regional Somali leaders on September 17. The September 17 agreement paves the way for indirect elections in Somalia, but the leader of Jubaland wants the Somali government to remove federal forces from Gedo region so that his administration can hold elections, a move opposed by the federal government.
Both Kenya and Jubaland denied the allegations at the time. Kenya expressed regret at the “unfortunate” move by Somalia. Kenya, responding to the Somali government's statement two weeks ago, said the allegations were “unsubstantiated.”
And on Sunday, Muse Biji Abdi, president of the breakaway republic of Somaliland, landed in Nairobi on a three-day visit. On Monday, Abdi met with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenya’s ministry of foreign affairs said the sides are discussing areas of “mutual interests.”
Kenya said it has no diplomatic presence in Somaliland but praised Somaliland as an important partner in the Horn of Africa region in the fight against terrorism and particularly Al-Shabab.
Kenya said it is keen to enhance and broaden trade and investment.
Somaliland declared secession from the rest of Somalia in May 1991 but is yet to gain international recognition. Somalia considers Somaliland as part of Somalia.
In July this year, Somalia cut ties with Guinea after the West African country welcomed Somaliland’s president during a visit to Conakry.
Although relations between Somalia and Kenya have deteriorated, Kenya has thousands of troops in Somalia as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia known as AMISOM. It’s not yet clear if Somalia will demand the withdrawal of Kenya troops that are based in Jubaland, the region of Somalia neighboring Kenya.
Also, the two countries have a maritime dispute pending before the International Court of Justice. The hearing will take place at The Hague in March 2021.