Somalia has severed diplomatic ties with Kenya, accusing it of violating Somali sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Somali Information Minister Osman Dube, who announced the government’s decision in a televised speech late on Monday, said Somalia ordered all its diplomats in Kenya to return, while Kenyan diplomats in Somalia have been ordered to leave within seven days.
“Somalia wants all its diplomats to go back to Mogadishu and Kenyan diplomats have seven days to leave the country,” Dube announced on state-run SNTV.
A statement by Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Mogadishu accused Kenya of trying to “infringe upon the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia”.
Kenya has denied the allegations.
Last month, Somalia expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Nairobi after alleging its neighbour was interfering in the electoral process in Jubbaland, one of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states.
Monday’s announcement came after Somaliland President Musa Bihi Abdi visited Nairobi a day earlier, marking the first visit since 2006.
The two countries do not have a diplomatic presence in each other’s territories but are “keen to broaden trade in goods and services … as the cornerstone for long-term development cooperation”, Kenya’s foreign ministry said on Twitter.
On November 30, Mogadishu expelled Kenya’s ambassador and recalled its own envoy from Nairobi accusing Kenya of interfering in the electoral process in Jubbaland, one of its five semi-autonomous states.
Relations between Somalia’s central government and the southern state of Jubbaland, which borders Kenya, are tense as authorities of the semi-autonomous region accuse Mogadishu of seeking to remove President Ahmed Madobe and put a loyalist in power to increase central control.
Madobe is a key ally of Kenya, which sees Jubbaland as a buffer against al-Shabab fighters who have staged several bloody attacks across the border.
Kenya has been further drawn in, as it is accused of harbouring a fugitive Jubbaland minister who was arrested by Mogadishu for “serious crimes” but escaped prison in January.
Kenya and Somalia are also at odds due to a spat over maritime borders, with possibly lucrative Indian Ocean oil and gas reserves at stake.
Following the latest developments, Somalia’s Foreign Minister said on Sunday that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which includes eight African countries, will hold a summit on December 20 in Djibouti.