East Africa: Somalia Fails in Attempt to Have Kenya Reprimanded At IGAD

Somalia’s attempts to have Kenya reprimanded at the regional bloc, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), fell through after leaders at the Summit largely disagreed with severance of diplomatic ties.

Instead, the heads of state and government gathered in Djibouti City on Sunday asked Somalia to focus on the electoral calendar as well as reconciliation and security programmes in the country.

Somalia had demanded that independent team from Igad be sent on on the common border of the two countries, where Somalia has alleged Kenya is aiding Somali militia, a charge Nairobi denies.

The 38th Extraordinary Summit of Igad was meant to discuss regional security challenges, humanitarian situation in Tigray as well as the rising Covid-19 infections in the region, which had so far reached 290,000 with more than 5300 deaths.

Many protests

But the meeting was preceded by a series of protests from Somalia, including cutting ties with Kenya, accusing Nairobi of interference in Mogadishu affairs. Mogadishu had also written to Igad’s Chairman, Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, seeking to have the issue placed on agenda.

“IGAD leaders have been pressing Somalia to resolve the Kenyan issue within IGAD, through dialogue and consensus. The first step will be to stabilise the situation and the crisis,” Mohamed Abdirazak, Somalia’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister said in Mogadishu yesterday.

“Somalia has agreed to that, but we have a condition that a team be appointed to address the issues that Somalia is complaining about,” he told a press conference.

No indication

The official communique issued on Monday morning did not indicate the tiff among issued discussed. Instead, they discussed Somalia’s own political calendar and political reconciliation programmes, asking that the processes in Somalia must be “Somali-led and Somali-owned” based on the September 17 Agreement between the Federal Government and the Federal Member States’ leaders.

“Further noting the importance of implementing the Agreement, [The Assembly] called upon the Federal Government, Federal Member States and other stakeholders to resolve any electoral management disputes through confidence and consensus-building in a manner that respects the spirit of the Dhusamareb process…

“And the Agreement of 17thSeptember 2020 on the revised election model as well as implementation protocols, so that timely elections embraced by the Somalia people can take place.”

Agreement signed

Dhusamareb in Galmudug state was the venue where the agreement was signed, providing deadlines under which the appointment of polling officials and their training, selection of delegates for voting in MPs as well as the election itself was to happen.

According to the agreement, MPs in both houses should be elected by December 26. But most of the deadlines have been missed and Somalia’s opposition leaders have demanded a review of polling officials arguing they are mostly biased.

Last week, as opposition leaders and their supporters protested the lack of compromise, Somalia went ahead to cut ties with Nairobi and accused Nairobi of ‘arming militia’ in Somalia.

At the meeting in Djibouti, Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Djibouti’s Ismael Guelleh and Somalia’s Mohamed Farmaajo gathered on the sidelines to discuss the issue.

Territorial integrity

They agreed that each country’s territorial integrity is paramount but disagreed with Somalia’s aggressive decision to sever diplomatic ties, instead urging parties to re-engage. They warned the lack of cooperation between the two leaders could encourage al-Shabaab to thrive and effectively ruin the electoral programme, according to sources at Igad.

The matter was left out the formal agenda just as the one between Sudan and Ethiopia’s border clashes was also left to bilateral talks.

At the start of the formal session, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat warned the antagonism between the two countries jeopardise regional security.

I’m convinced that the long-standing and strong links… can overcome the current challenges.