Somalia names new envoy to Kenya

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Somalia has named former presidential candidate Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle new ambassador to Nairobi, tapping into the experience of a man who has lived and worked in Kenya to tie up the relations between the countries.

Abdulle will be coming to Nairobi at a time Kenya has also replaced its envoy in Mogadishu, just a year after Maj-Gen Thomas Chepkuto reported for duty, appointed by former president Uhuru Kenyatta.

Chepkuto will be replaced by Kiringo Kubai, a former legislator from Igembe Central in Meru County. He was among new envoys recently approved after nomination by President William Ruto.

Both states have since accepted the new envoys, each offering a consent note normally known as agrément that acts as official permission for the new diplomat to report to duty.

In Abdulle, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is sending a man who has worked in Kenya for most of the past decade. He is replacing Mohamed Nur Tarzan, a former Mayor of Mogadishu who had been appointed by former Somalia president Mohamed Farmaajo in 2018. His past five years in Kenya included an incident in which the two sides cut ties in 2019 and twice suspended direct flights between them. Tarzan had replaced Gamal Hassan who went on to become the minister for planning.

Abdulle had sought the presidency in Somalia last year but often coalesced in a loos group of candidates then known as the Council of Presidential Candidates that also included Mr Mohamud.

His first task in the in-tray is to facilitate border reopening between the two sides as Somalia inches closer to joining the East African Community. The common border between them has been closed since 2009 and Nairobi recently delayed reopening to assess the security situation.

An earlier Joint Commission for Co-operation (JCC) meeting between them had also identified issues of joint security activities, defence, agriculture, trade, intelligence exchange, health, education and movement of people among issues to consider in future.

Read: Talks clear way for restart of Kenya-Somalia trade

Abdulle has been involved in peace-building and reconciliation between the various clans in Somalia, his profile reads.

As a former head of the Centre for Research and Dialogue, he was a key figure during the Somali peace talks in the early 2000s in Eldoret and Mbagathi in Kenya.

Abdullahi Mohamed, a Horn of Africa analyst says the Somali President is tapping a person who understands both sides of the divide to avoid mistakes of his predecessors in relating with Kenya.

“Jabril Abdulle understands the historical relationship between the two countries.

“He is familiar within Kenya’s establishment, positioning him to cultivate a strong strategic partnership,” told The EastAfrican.