Somali federal government (Somalia) has issued a directive barring government agencies, donors and UN bodies from holding meetings, seminars and conferences in Nairobi, Kenya.
This follows a recent issue where three senior Somalia government officials were left stranded at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) after officials denied them entry for lack of visas.
“Due to the recent travel issues to Nairobi, Kenya, the ministry (of health) informs all its partners that representative from the ministry will not attend all upcoming metings, workshops, seminars and trainings to be held in Nairobi. The ministry highly encourages those events to be held inside the country or be moved to alternative countries for ease of travel to ministry representatives,” reads the circular in part.
Last week, the junior Minister of Water and Energy Osman Libah, legislators Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir, were part of a delegation scheduled to attend a European Union sponsored conflict management programme on Tuesday.
According to reports, the delegation had diplomatic passports with them but government representatives at the JKIA couldn’t allow them in. They insisted that the three should have obtained visas at the Kenyan Embassy in Mogadishu before proceeding.
the officials were directed to travel back to Mogadishu, as their colleagues with foreign passports were allowed in.
Traditionally, under bilateral arrangement, holders of diplomatic passports are granted entry visas at ports of entry.
“The Kenyan authorities at the airport informed these guys that such plan has changed, and now everyone has to obtain visa from Kenya’s Mission in Mogadishu,” a senior Somali official in the delegation, but who traveled on a foreign passport, told the media on Monday night.
“The officials learnt this change upon arrival as there was no prior communication regarding this.”
The new developments comes months after the Kenyan government faced diplomatic challenges with Somalia over disputed oil blocks.
This led to Kenya recalling her ambassador to Somalia Lt-Gen (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo, as well as expelling Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya Mr Nur, alias Tarzan.
The Kenya Airways has also cancelled its direct flights to Somalia.