KAMPALA – As the world watches with betted breath over souring relations between Somalia and Kenya, Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo will this month be in Uganda’s capital Kampala where Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta is also expected for inaugural Africa Now Conference.
According to information, Mr. Farmajo confirmed his attendance at the summit which is due to be held on March 12 and 13, 2019. Mr. Awel Uwihanganye, the Associate Director of the Africa Strategic Leadership Centre, a Kampala-based Pan-African think tank which organized the summit, said Mr. Farmajo had confirmed his attendance and would be hosted by President Yoweri Museveni, joined by other leaders like Tanzania’s Deputy President Samia Hassan Suluhu.
Egypt’s President Fatta Al Sisi, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and South Africa’s Syril Ramaphosa are among a list of many other heads of state yet to confirm their attendance just as is Kenyatta.
A State House source speaking on condition of anonymity has intimated that State House will use the opportunity of Kenyatta and Farmajo being in the country to organize talks between the two that will see them address the recent developments in the Indian Ocean.
On February 16, the government in Kenya sent packing the Somalia ambassador and also recalled their representative from Mogadishu, indicating a row between the two neighbours Somalia and Kenya. Kenya alleged that Somalia had auctioned disputed offshore oil blocks. The same blocks are the subject of a suit at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
In an address to journalists, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said Kenya would not cede any of its Indian Ocean resources.
However, the government of Somalia dismissed Kenya’s claims that oil blocks were auctioned.
Kenya, however, maintains that Somalia auctioned some of the offshore oil blocks within the disputed 100,000 square kilometers. Dr. Juma cited blocks 230, 231, 232 and 233 as the oil blocks Somalia offered bidders at the February 7 Somalia Oil Conference in London, insisting they belong to Kenya’s maritime zone.
According to the source, the Kampala Summit will offer the leaders of the two countries an opportunity to talk and show the world that all is well at sea for the two countries who are so tied economically and socially that they stand to lose a lot in a diplomatic dispute.
Farmajo, who came to power in 2017, has hitherto had the closest relations with the Kenyan leadership.
Great Lakes in turmoil
The development in Nairobi comes on the back of deteriorating relations between Uganda and its south-western neighbours Rwanda.
President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame have gone cold with veiled warnings from either party.
Uganda has recently launched a massive classified investigation into the operations of MTN Uganda that has seen four senior managers, including Rwandan General Manager for Sales and Distribution, Annie Tabura, who was kicked out in January, accused of endangering the country’s security.
Kenya and Somalia have had a protracted dispute over a maritime boundary which escalated in 2014 when Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice.
Macharia said Kenya has always pushed for diplomatic and peaceful resolution of the continent by engaging in negotiations and submitting itself to the international courts’ processes.
Macharia, however, maintained the country’s claim over the disputed boundary area, saying it is historically Kenyan.
“[Kenya]…has severally and emphatically stated its unequivocal claim of the maritime area that is known to be historically Kenyan,” she said.
He said it is regrettable that the neighbouring country chose the path of aggression despite Kenya having stood with it during many years of political and humanitarian hardships.
Kamau said the Kenyan government got alarmed when on February 6, it noted that the Somali government had displayed the oil and gas blocks within the Kenyan territory for auction in London and then complained formally but no action was taken.
“The government summoned the Somalia ambassador and demanded the withdrawal of the incorrect maps displayed at the conference and cessation of the oil and gas blocks in the Kenyan territory,” he said.
Kamau said the ambassador confirmed that he had transmitted the complaint to the highest level of the Somali government.
Kenyan Ambassador in Mogadishu was also instructed to register the protest with the Somali government and was confirmed as received, the PS said.