Kenya Airforce (KAF) on Saturday March 14 is reported to have deployed a squadron to overfly the Frontier in Mandera County in North Eastern as a show of might after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed snubbed Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Fighter Jets overflew Bula Hawo borderlands and south of the frontier.
Mr Ahmed was expected to meet Mr Kenyatta to mediate in the Kenya, Somalia issue but instead, sent his ceremonial President Sahle-Work Zewde last week, who is not averaged with the issues.
As a formality, a press statement issued on Thursday March 12 indicated that Mr Kenyatta and Ms Zewde discussed peaceful co-existence among communities living along the Kenya-Ethiopia border and the desert locust invasion.
“At the regional level, the two Heads of State discussed the challenges facing the Nile River basin and emphasized the need for pursuing African solutions to African problems,” the statement read in part,
The meeting was attended by Cabinet Secretaries Raychelle Omamo and Sicily Kariuki as well as Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Catherine Mwangi and her Ethiopian counterpart to Kenya Meles Alem Tikea.
Media reports indicated that unlike the Somali President Mr Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, who readily accepted Mr Kenyatta’s invitation to Nairobi, Dr Abiy did not give such commitment.
On March 11, President Kenyatta was forced to send Interior CS Dr Fred Matiang’i to follow up on the invite, which did not bear fruits.
Instead, Matiang’i gave an excuse that he held talks about the meeting. Constitutionally, the CS is not allowed to meddle in cross-border affairs.
“We’ve held substantive talks with Dr Abiy on Kenya’s desire for more avenues of collaboration to tackle issues on the Somalia border with a view to enhancing regional stability,” Dr Matiang’i tweeted.
Representing H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta, we've held substantive talks with the Prime Minister of Ethiopia @AbiyAhmedAli on Kenya's desire for more avenues of collaboration to tackle endemic issues along the Kenya-Somalia border with a view to enhancing regional stability. pic.twitter.com/jZEBfukxOH
— Dr. Fred Matiang'i (@FredMatiangi) March 11, 2020
The three countries were supposed to hold a Tripartite Summit on Monday, March 16 entailing Mr Kenyatta, Mr Farmajo and Dr Abiy. In a letter seen by this writer from government, the summit was postponed to a later date, without a reason being given.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kenya presents its compliments to the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Somalia and has the honour to inform that due to unavoidable intervening circumstances, it will not be possible for the Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia Tripartite Summit to take place as earlier scheduled on 16th March 2020,” the letter to Somali Embassy in Kenya read.
In 2018, Abiy signed an MoU with Farmaajo to develop four sea ports, suggesting closer working relationships between the two countries.
The meeting between Mr Kenyatta and Farmajo is said to have been brokered by Abiy after the Kenyan Head of State issued a stern warning to Somalia following the fierce clashes that were reported to have erupted between Somalia troops and Jubaland forces in Bulla Hawa.
On March 2, 2020, heavy gunfire was reported coupled with explosions and black smoke in Somalia’s Bulla Hawa, which borders Mandera town.
In a statement dated March 4 undersigned by the Government Spokesperson Kanze Dena, the President asked the Somalia government to desist from unwanted provocations. In addition, he urged the country to focus on managing its internal affairs for the welfare of its people.
“We, therefore, urge the Federal Government of Somalia, to cease and desist from the unwarranted provocations and focus on managing its internal affairs for the welfare of its people, defeating terrorism, and advancing the cause of peace, security and stability in the region,” read the statement in part.
The attack by the Somalia National Army on Monday was a breach and a disregard to the international laws and conventions as the activities destroyed properties of Kenyan citizens living in the border town.
Despite Jubbaland Security Forces (JSF) being praised for being a key partner in the fight against Al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Somalia National Army was now blamed for enabling the activities of terror units in the country.
Jubbaland is a key strategic location for Kenya’s security forces which is credited with creating and nurturing it to protect the country against the invasion by terror cells operating in the region.