End Somalia-Kenya spat

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The latest escalation of the row between Kenya and Somalia is not in their best interests. Just days after the restoration of diplomatic ties following mediation by Qatari leaders, the neighbours are at loggerheads with Kenya banning flights to and from Somalia.

Interestingly, Somalia’s Ministry of Air Transportation officials say they learnt of the decision through the media. Could this have been because the Kenyan envoys are yet to return to Mogadishu? But even if that were the case, it would not justify the failure to make direct contact before implementing a decision that has far-reaching ramifications.

As we have argued time and again, Kenya and Somalia need each other to tackle their common serious problems, such as the insecurity fuelled by Al-Shabaab attacks. The terrorists have waged a violent campaign against the administration of President Mohamed Farmaajo, striking targets in Mogadishu.

Restoration of diplomatic relations

On Tuesday night, Somalia vowed to issue an “appropriate reaction” to the flights ban, which can only aggravate the situation. The ban will adversely affect both countries. It is going to be a major hindrance to trade between them. Kenya Civil Aviation Authority says commercial and cargo flights to and from Somalia have been suspended until August with the exception of United Nations, medical and humanitarian flights.

It seems this was in retaliation to a Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) announcement that miraa flights from Kenya remain suspended despite the restoration of diplomatic relations severed last December. Then, Mogadishu had accused Kenya of interference in its internal affairs. Somalia has also filed a dispute in the International Court of Justice over the maritime boundary with Kenya.

The Somali and Kenyan leaders should work together to end the frequent rows and prioritise efforts to stabilise the conflict-ridden Horn of Africa country.

By Editorial The Nation