NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 21 – Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo met in Djibouti on Sunday, days after the two nations severed diplomatic ties.
Although Somalia did not outline specific grievances when announcing its decision to cut ties with Kenya on Tuesday, only citing the violation of its territory, the announcement came as President Kenyatta hosted Somaliland President Musa Bihi Abdi, the leader of Somali’s northwestern region that declared independence from in 1991.
The two met during a meeting hosted by Djibouti’s Ismail Guelleh which was also attended by Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The four leaders were attending the 38th Extra-Ordinary Summit of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convened by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok of Sudan who is the current Chairperson of the IGAD Assembly to discuss regional peace and stability.
At the meeting, also attended by the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat, South Sudan and Uganda were represented by Vice President Rebecca Garang and Amb Rebecca Otengo, the country’s envoy to Djibouti respectively.
In his address, AUC Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said the diplomatic tension between Kenya and Somalia was a concern for the African Union.
Mahamat called for dialogue in de-escalating the tension saying the two countries share a long history of good neighbourliness and cited Kenya’s contribution of troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and its hosting of a large population of Somali refugees as key reference points.
On Ethiopia, the AUC Chairperson urged IGAD member states to assist the country in dealing with the humanitarian crisis arising out of the conflict in its Tigray region.
Host President Ismail Guelleh applauded the progress made in the search for sustainable peace and stability in the region despite disruptions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and other setbacks such as floods and the desert locust invasion
Speaking just before the leaders retreated into a closed-door session, Prime Minister Hamdok said the meeting was called to discuss ongoing regional peace and security processes in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia.
President Kenyatta, who arrived in Djibouti on Sunday morning, was accompanied to the summit by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo.