Kenya, Somalia Shelve Visa Row In New Bilateral Agreement

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo at State House, Nairobi
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo at State House, Nairobi [Photo/Courtesy]

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo have agreed to restore issuance of travel visas on arrival arrangement for citizens of the two nations.

A statement from the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PCSU) indicates that the move is aimed at enhancing free and unhindered movement of people and commerce between the two countries.

In May this year, three senior Somalia government officials were refused entry at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya for lacking visas.

The officials were part of a government delegation that was scheduled to attend the launch of a European Union-sponsored cross-border conflict management programme.

Immigration officials at JKIA are said to have told them that they should have obtained visas at the Kenyan embassy in Mogadishu before proceeding. This escalated the conflicts that arose following the ban of direct flights from Mogadishu to any part of Kenya.

To date, the flights undergo routine security checks at Wajir before proceeding to other parts of Kenya.

Read: MPs Now Want Govt To Use Military Force To Resolve Maritime Row With Somalia

Farmaajo was in the country to attend the just-concluded three-day International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).

It was his first time to set foot in Nairobi since March this year when an attempted mediation by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed failed following the maritime row between Somalia and Kenya.

The two Heads of States noted that the restoration of the visa arrangement was just the beginning of normalizing strained ties over the boarder dispute.

They expressed confidence that the dispute that is currently before the International Court of Justice in The Hague will be resolved in a mutually acceptable manner.

Somalia sued Kenya at the ICJ in 2014, seeking to redraw the sea boundary between the two countries from the current straight line to a diagonal flow.

Read Also: Somalia Summons Kenyan Ambassador To Protest “Encroachment On Its Air”

However, Kenya has maintained that he marine boundary is determined by a parallel line of latitude to the east, as per the standards set by the colonial powers, which were adopted in the marine borders between Kenya and Tanzania, Tanzania and Mozambique and Mozambique and South Africa.

In September, Kenya asked for a delay of the case by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team.

But the ICJ, which had initially set a September 9-13 date, pushed the public hearings to November 4-8.

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Written by Wycliffe Nyamasege


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