Saturday October 12, 2019
By Mohammed Omar Ahmed and David Herbling
Kenya's national flag flies in Nairobi. Photographer: YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP
Somalia summoned Kenya’s ambassador after a Kenyan-registered plane landed in the port city of Kismayo in the southern state of Jubaland without “official permission,” amid a simmering maritime-border dispute between the neighbors.
Jubaland won some political autonomy in 2013 and is among Somalia states jostling for more autonomy and control over oil, gas and other resources. Somalia’s central government is wary of Jubaland’s president, Mohamed Islam Madobe, who leads a powerful militia that fought alongside Kenyan troops against the al-Shabaab group to recapture Kismayo’s port in 2012.
Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011 after a spate of kidnappings by the Islamist militants in its territory, but later joined a multi-national African Union peacekeeping force.
“Somalia strongly protests this violation and will not accept any encroachment on its air, sea and land borders,” according to a statement from Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “The federal government of Somalia sees this action contradicts all principles of good neighborliness and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”
Kenya did not violate Somalia’s air space and the offending flight was by a private plane, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said, terming the incident as “just a distraction.”
Diplomatic relations between the two East African neighbors soured this year after Kenya accused Somalia of auctioning four offshore oil blocks in a disputed area, an allegation its neighbor denied.
Amid the tension, Kenyan immigration authorities denied three Somalia lawmakers entry in May, just days after the East African nation suspended direct flights from the latter’s capital, Mogadishu, forcing planes from Somalia to make a stop at a border town for security screening before proceeding to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
(Updates with Kenyan Foreign Ministry comment in fifth paragraph.)