Twelve Somali presidential candidates have questioned the sending away of the Kenyan envoy, saying it would sour relations with a neighbour who “has stood with us all the time.”
The candidates, at a joint press conference in Mogadishu on Wednesday, termed the move as the polarization of diplomatic posting abroad, accusing the Somali government of trying to use the issue as an election campaign tool.
Led by two former presidents, Sheikh Shariff Ahmed and Sheikh Hassan Mahmoud, the candidates expressed concern over the negative impact this would have on Somali businesses, students, travellers and refugees.
Somalia on Sunday recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Mohamud Ahmed Nur ‘Tarzan’, for “consultation” and ordered Kenya’s Ambassador to Somalia Lucas Tumbo to return to Nairobi, with Mogadishu accusing Kenya of interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs.
Mogadishu accused Kenya of influencing Jubbaland President Sheikh Ahmed Madobe to renege on the elections agreement signed in September.
But the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday denied the accusations, saying that Nairobi has always encouraged all sides to discuss any contentious issues to ensure the polls go on.
“It is therefore incumbent upon all political actors in Somalia to stay true to their political commitments, avoid distracting actions and engage constructively to ensure timely implementation of the elections calendar, which will mark another critical phase in the post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Somalia,” it said in a statement.