Somalia on Sunday appeared to dig a new rift with Kenya after it summoned its envoy to Kenya “for consultations”, accusing Nairobi of interfering with Mogadishu’s electoral programme.
Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Mohamed Ali Nur appeared on TV on Sunday stating his country was recalling its Ambassador to Kenya Mohamud Ahmed Nur ‘Tarzan’ and ordered Kenya’s envoy to Mogadishu Lucas Tumbo out of the country.
The country accused Kenya of pressuring Jubaland State to reject an electoral deal reached in October that allowed formal indirect elections to proceed as scheduled for next month.
But Mr Nur, who did not table evidence, claimed Kenya had prevailed upon Jubaland leader Mohamed Ahmed Madobe to reject the arrangement and hence sabotage the electoral programme.
“Somalia expresses its regret in the government of Kenya’s overt and blatant interferences in the internal and political affairs of the Federal Republic of Somalia which has the potential to be a hindrance to the stability, security and development of the entire region,” Mr Nur claimed.
In recent weeks, it has become apparent to the Federal Government of Somalia that the Kenyan government is placing great political pressure on the regional President of Jubaland, Mr Ahmed Mohamed Islan Madobe in order to pursue its political and economic interests in Somalia.”
Mr Nur’s claims emerged as both countries appeared to improve on their relations recently. Somalia reopened its old embassy premises closed during the war as Kenya reopened its new building in Mogadishu constructed since 2018. Somalia has since fired Mr Ahmed Isse Awad, the Foreign Minister who reopened the Nairobi embassy building, over a different matter.
That had indicated a closure of months of tension that erupted last year in February when Kenya summoned Maj-Gen (Rtd) Tumbo back to Nairobi “for consultations” and ordered Mr Tarzan out after Nairobi protested Somalia’s attempted sale of contested oil blocks.
On Sunday, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told the Nation Nairobi “regrets” Somalia’s decision to recall its envoy, promising that the two countries will discuss the matter diplomatically.
“We will respond officially through appropriate channels soon,” Mr Kamau said on phone.
Lately, officials in Nairobi had been indicating desire to go beyond political bickering with Somalia to focus on trade and ease of movement of people.
Kenya announced earlier this month it will start giving Somalis visas on arrival, something it had suspended from 2018 as it courted Somalia to open up investment channels for Kenyans.
But it appears Mogadishu’s beef was that federal states which signed the electoral deal with President Mohamed Farmaajo were now developing cold feet.
On Saturday, Mr Madobe criticised Farmaajo’s government for bulldozing programmes asking that the opposition be listened to develop consensus.
The current tiff, however, seemed to have emerged from the electoral calendar which has been rejected by key opposition figures.
On Thursday, 14 presidential candidates opposed to Mr Farmaajo vowed to reject the electoral deal unless the composition of the electoral commission is reviewed.
The arrangement had been reached between Mr Farmaajo and five federal state presidents of Jubaland, Puntland, South West, Galmudug and Hirshabelle. The political parties were, however, excluded.
Under the arrangement, Somalia is due to elect federal MPs in their respective states from early next month after which the MPs will vote in their national President in February.