Somalia restores ties with Kenya

Thursday May 06 2021

Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi in March 2017. PHOTO | FILE | NMG


Somalia has restored diplomatic ties it cut with Kenya, following mediation by Qatar.

The decision was announced on Thursday in what Somalia’s presidency said was meant to sustain regional peace and harmony.

Abdirashid M Hashi, the spokesman for Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo, said Qatar had steered the resumption of relations but did not elaborate how.

“In [the] interest of good neighbourliness, FGS [Federal Government of Somalia] resumes diplomatic ties with Kenya based on mutual benefit and respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-external interference, peaceful co-existence and equality.

“Somalia and Kenya Presidents thank [the] Emir of Qatar for his good offices in this regard.”

The move seemed likely earlier this week after the Qatar Emir sent his special envoy to Somalia and Kenya. In Kenya, State House said Dr Mutlaq bib Majed al-Qahtani had delivered a special message from the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Thani.


Dr Al-Qahtani, has been Qatari’s Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar for Counterterrorism and Mediation of Conflict Resolution, and was largely involved in negotiations between the Afghani government and the Taliban, to allow US troops to pull out without a security vacuum.

The resumption of ties follows a series of back channel talks between Somalia, Kenya and Qatar, which has enjoyed an influential position in Somalia under President Farmaajo. Nairobi had involved Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i in messages sent to Mogadishu, back in September when the two countries started engaging in accusations, as well as to Doha last month.

Somalia had cut ties with Kenya in December 2020 and ordered its ambassador, Mohamed Nur Tarsan, to return home and Kenya’s Lucas Tumbo ordered back to Nairobi. Mogadishu accused Nairobi of political interference, claims Kenya denied.

Somalia’s partners and the African Union had warned that cutting of ties could jeopardise focus on counter-terrorism measures.

On Thursday, Kenya said it took "note" of Somalia's announcement to restore ties with Kenya and hoped there will be further normalisation including on issues of trade.

"In taking note of these developments, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs looks forward to further normalisation of relations by the Somali authorities including with regard to trade, communication, transportation, people to people relations and cultural exchanges," a statement said, thanking Qatar for its efforts to help Somalia and Kenya normalise relations.

Somalia and Kenya have an ongoing maritime case at the International Court of Justice, and the dispute had helped foment tensions under Farmaajo’s tenure.