Kenya denies entry to Somalia Deputy Minister, Senators, triggering another diplomatic row

There is yet another brewing diplomatic tiff between Kenya and Somalia.

This is after reports that Somalia Deputy Minister of Water and Energy Osman Libah, Senators Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir were on Monday denied access into Kenya, and were stranded at the JKIA airport and returned to Mogadishu on Tuesday morning.

According to sources in Somalia, the country’s embassy in Nairobi unsuccessfully intervened on their behalf.

The officials were scheduled to attend the launch of the European Union Trust Fund for Africa programme “Collaboration in Cross Border Areas of the Horn of Africa” to be opened on Tuesday at the United Nations Office in Nairobi.

According to VOA news journalist Harun Maruf, the officials were carrying Somali diplomatic passports but immigration officers at JKIA rejected issuing visas. Sources indicated other ministers, officials were allowed to enter only after producing their western passports.

This comes just days after the two states resumed diplomatic relations after the de-escalation of the maritime border row. Last week, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs welcomed back Somalia’s envoy in his office and tweeted, “With the #Somali Ambassador in my office. Welcoming him back to Nairobi. Hoping for even better days ahead.”

On Saturday, former deputy speaker and Lagdera MP Farah Maalim and sensationally tweeted, “Nairobi is now a beehive of UAE intelligence activities/offensive on the unity and stability of Somalia. Maritime dispute at ICJ notwithstanding Kenya must shun UAE goodies and refuse to be drawn into cold war with Somalia. Territorial integrity of all States in HOA is sacrosanct.”

In a rejoinder, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma said, “Strange claim here! 1/2: Inspite of the unfortunate circumstances that have befallen several of our neighbours over time (not just Somalia) Kenya has never had an appetite and acted in any way to offend or subvert the unity and stability of any of our neighbours.”

“We have always stood, and still firmly do, for the ABSOLUTE respect for EACH nations territorial integrity. This is what informs our engagement with all nations of the world.”

Kenya has been embroiled in a diplomatic row with Somalia over the maritime border, dispute, a case that is before the International Court of Justice.

While Somalia prefers the judicial route, Kenya is for negotiations.

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