Kenya and Somalia: Relations on the mend

After long spells in the doldrums, relations between Kenya and neighbouring Somalia appear to be on the mend as President…

After long spells in the doldrums, relations between Kenya and neighbouring Somalia appear to be on the mend as President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares for showdown talks with Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Roble.PM Roble starts an official visit in Kenya on Tuesday on the invitation of President Kenyatta.

Analysts say this series of talks is one of the more serious attempt by the two countries this year to rejig their soured relations.

Roble had just concluded an official visit to the UK.

His visit comes just days after Kenyan Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo made a trip to Mogadishu and held talks with senior state officials including President Mohamed Farmaajo.

Perhaps the most important agenda of the Kenyatta-Roble meeting will be the two neighbours’ maritime dispute over the Indian Ocean, a case which is in front of the International Court of Justice.

The area under contention between Kenya and Somalia is a 62,000 sq  miles (160,000 sq km) in the Indian Ocean found to be sitting on a rich  reserve of oil.

Somalia took Kenya to the ICJ in 2014, claiming that the maritime border demarcation separating the two countries should take a cue from their land border.

On the other hand, Kenya insists on the maritime line being horizontal beginning from where the two neighbours’ coastlines meet.

President Kenyatta and PM Roble will look to iron out their two countries differences over Somali accusations of Nairobi interfering in its international affairs, the undermined khat trade and regional security.

Since May when the Somali Civil Aviation Authority decided to slap a ban on the importation of Khat herbs describing the trade a illegal, Kenyan miraa traders have incurred losses running into tens of millions of Kenyan Shillings.

President Kenyatta may use his influence to reverse this decision which is hurting his country’s exporters to Somalia.

Relations between Somalia and Kenya have been strained in recent  years, culminating in Mogadishu’s decision to recall its diplomats from   Nairobi, citing interference in its internal affairs.

Mogadishu accused Nairobi of meddling in its Gedo region, an allegation Kenya has always denied.          

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