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Sudan protest group calls nationwide ‘civil disobedience’

Sudan protest group calls nationwide ‘civil disobedience’


Source. AFP, Sunday June 9, 2019

A key protest group on Saturday announced a nationwide “civil disobedience” campaign it said would run until Sudan’s ruling generals transfer power to a civilian government.

The call by the Sudanese Professionals Association, which first launched protests against longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, came days after a bloody crackdown on demonstrators left dozens dead in Khartoum and crushed hopes for a swift democratic transition.

POWER

“The civil disobedience movement will begin Sunday and end only when a civilian government announces itself in power on state television,” the SPA said in a statement.

“Disobedience is a peaceful act capable of bringing to its knees the most powerful weapons arsenal in the world.”
It was still unclear how the campaign would unfold on the streets, especially in Khartoum where all key roads and squares have been deserted since Monday’s crackdown.

Led by men in army fatigues, the raid on the weeks-long sit-in outside the army complex left at least 113 people dead, according to doctors close to the demonstrators.

The health ministry says 61 people died nationwide in the crackdown, 52 of them by “live ammunition” in Khartoum.

DARFUR CONFLICT

Witnesses say the assault was led by the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who have their origins in the notorious Janjaweed militia, accused of abuses in the Darfur conflict between 2003 and 2004.

The call for “civil disobedience” came a day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Khartoum seeking to revive talks between the generals and protest leaders on the country’s transition.

Sudan’s military council seized power in April after ousting Bashir on the back of months-long protests against his three-decade rule.

Since then, it has resisted calls from protesters and Western nations to transfer power to a civilian administration.

Several rounds of talks with the demonstrators finally broke down in mid-May.

NEGOTIATIONS

In a bid to revive the negotiations, the Ethiopian premier held separate meetings with the two sides in Khartoum on Friday.

“The army, the people and political forces have to act with courage and responsibility by taking quick steps towards a democratic and consensual transitional period,” Abiy said in a statement after the meetings.

“The army has to protect the security of the country and its people and political forces have to think about the future of the country.”

But three members of an opposition delegation that met the Ethiopian premier were later arrested, their aides said Saturday.

Opposition politician Mohamed Esmat was detained Friday, while Ismail Jalab, a leader of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), was taken from his home overnight.

“A group of armed men came in vehicles at 3:00 am (0100 GMT) and took away Ismail Jalab… without giving any reason,” one of his aides, Rashid Anwar, told AFP.

DETAINED

He said SPLM-N spokesman Mubarak Ardol was also detained.

Esmat and Jalab are both leading members of the Alliance for Freedom and Change, an umbrella of opposition parties and some rebel groups.

The Alliance, of which the SPA is a key member, was the main organiser of mass protests since December that led to Bashir’s ouster.

The arrests threaten to further complicate efforts to reconcile the protest movement and the generals.

Following Monday’s brutal crackdown, chances of a quick democratic transition appear remote as protest leaders now insist that talks with the generals can resume only under certain conditions.

“The Transitional Military Council has to admit the crime it committed,” Omar al-Digeir, a prominent protest leader told reporters on Friday after meeting Abiy.

PROBE

He demanded an international probe into “the massacre at the sit-in” and called for all military forces to be removed from streets across the country.

Digeir said the military council should also restore access to the internet and allow public and media freedoms.

Since the crackdown, Khartoum residents have mostly been sheltering indoors and the streets have been deserted.

RSF members and soldiers on Saturday cleared major Khartoum streets of roadblocks put up by protesters.

Demonstrators had used tyres, tree trunks and rocks to erect the makeshift barricades, which the generals had warned would not be tolerated.

RSF chief and deputy head of the military council, Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has warned he will not tolerate “any chaos”.

Some barricades remained in place, witnesses said Saturday, but the protest site at military headquarters was out of bounds.

Troops and RSF paramilitaries surrounded it from all sides to keep demonstrators at bay.

The protest slogans that once rang across Khartoum — “freedom, peace, justice” and “civilian rule, civilian rule” — were nowhere to be heard.

AU pledges continued AMISOM support to Somalia

AU pledges continued AMISOM support to Somalia


Source: AMISOM, Monday June 10, 2019

Image result for farmajo and Amisom

The Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Ambassador Francisco Madeira on Sunday met with the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, and discussed the role that AMISOM has to play in the stabilisation of Somalia under its recently adopted new mandate.

The United Nations Security Council late last month adopted Resolution 2472 in which it extended AMISOM’s mandate and approved further troop reduction by 1000 personnel in line with the existing Somalia Transitional Plan to gradually transfer security responsibilities to Somali security forces.

“We all agreed that AMISOM remains extremely relevant in Somalia in supporting Somalia in its efforts to stabilise the country and contain Al-Shabaab. This joint effort must continue and Al-Shabaab must be brought under control,” Ambassador Madeira stated in an interview after the closed-door meeting.

Both President Farmaajo and Ambassador Madeira further discussed developments under the security sector, particularly focusing on the recent capture of the towns of Sabiid and Bariire by the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) supported by AMISOM, and the capacity demonstrated by these forces to hold the captured towns.

“In this we see the quality of the troops (SNSF) who are making sure that the population of Sabiid and Bariire and their property are protected and that there are no illegal checkpoints and no illegal taxation or extortion taking place,” Ambassador Madeira noted.

The AU Special Representative said that going forward, the focus of AMISOM is on the attainment of the transition plan objectives through the implementation of its revised Concept of Operations (CONOPs) under the new mandate.

He said, “As AMISOM, we now need to continue to reconfigure in a manner that can allow us to deliver on the new mandate that was given to us by enhancing our synergies and coordination in the implementation of the CONOPs detailed plan 2018-2021 for peace and security in Somalia.”

Sudan: Gulf States Filling Void Left by West

Sudan: Gulf States Filling Void Left by West

Souce: Foreign Policy posted on 5 June 2019
Foreign Policy posted on 5 June 2019 an analysis titled “Arab States Foment Sudan Chaos While U.S. Stands By” by Justin Lynch and Robbie Gramer.

The authors argue that Sudan is on the brink of a total breakdown and in the absence of the United States, several Gulf States are filling the void.

‘Most at Home’: Somalis Prouder of Sweden Than Swedes – Survey

‘Most at Home’: Somalis Prouder of Sweden Than Swedes – Survey


Source: Saturday June 8, 2019

Researchers have explained immigrants’ swelling pride in their new home country with elevated living standards and longer life expectancy.

A majority of immigrants from overseas countries are very proud to be Swedish, scoring even higher than the country’s overall population, a new report published in conjuction with Sweden’s National Day has shown. Incidentally, immigrants also are more enthusiastic about Sweden’s National Day.

In the global research project World Values Survey (WVS), which interviewed 6,516 people from overseas countries living in Sweden, wholly 53 percent said they were “very proud” of being Swedish, while 57 percent said they felt “at home in Sweden”. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, immigrants from Somalia, Eritrea, and Afghanistan appeared to have a greater pride in Sweden than the Swedes themselves.

“Those who are the proudest and feel most at home are Somali women. The same goes for Eritreans”, Bi Puranen at the Institute for Future Studies, the secretary general of the World Values Survey told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. “They and those who cannot read or write feel most at home in Sweden”, she added.

 

Puranen attributed this spike in Swedish patriotism among immigrants to integration going deeper than ever before. According to Puranen, this group’s life expectancy in Sweden is likely to increase by 10-15 years, which explains some of its satisfaction.While feeling an affinity with both their country of origin and Sweden, immigrants have a divergent view on a number of issues, compared with the majority population, such as tolerance for homosexuals, sex before marriage, abortion, and prostitution. Many also argue that gender equality and women’s rights have gone foo far in Sweden.

In a similar survey conducted by the very same WVS between 2010 and 2014, only 39.7 percent of the population as a whole, which is majority Swedish, said they were very proud of Sweden. This level of pride has remained relatively stable for the past two decades and is not expected to change any time soon.

The survey has stirred strong reactions among the Swedish public.

“We pay our taxes, work ourselves to death, welfare is being eroded and Sweden is starting to look like the Middle East! Immigrants from overseas countries get everything served on a gold platter at the expense of us, our elderly, our sick, our children! No wonder they are happy and glad!” a lady who goes by the nickname “Religion scholar” tweeted bitterly.

“Are we allowed to be proud at all or are we then violating some other culture? No wonder it’s like that”, a user mused.

“What Swede would publicly proclaim that they are proud of Sweden? They’ll get a racist stamp immediately”, another one chimed in.

“Well, we are being indoctrinated that nationalism is something ugly, while the rest of the world clearly doesn’t think so”, yet another user tweeted, suggesting that Sweden was “an extreme country”.

“Cheers, Sweden”, a user named The Swedish Paleocon tweeted, posting a photograph of a black man in a traditional Swedish female dress.

The Swedish Paleocon@swedishpaleocon

Grattis Sverige! 🇸🇪

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Until the post-WII era, immigration to Sweden was mostly limited to Finns. Having started accepting foreign guest workers in the 1960s, Sweden has opened up for mass immigration in the subsequent decades, peaking at 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 alone. Today, the share of immigrants and their descendants is estimated at about a quarter of Sweden’s population of 10 million.

The Somali diaspora has swelled since the 1990s, as refugees from the Somali Civil War started to arrive in Sweden. Today, the Somali diaspora is estimated at over 60,000, with over half of them retaining their Somali citizenship as well. The Stockholm suburb of Rinkeby has been colloquially nicknamed “Little Mogadishu” for the vast Somali presence.

Djibouti dam financed by Turkish gov’t completed

Djibouti dam financed by Turkish gov’t completed


Source: Daily Sabah, Friday June 7, 2019

Image result for Djibouti dam financed by Turkish gov't completed

The construction of the Ambouli Friendship Dam in Djibouti is largely completed, Turkey’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said in a statement.

The main body of the dam, built under a deal signed between Turkey and Djibouti in 2014 on cooperation on water, concluded its construction and the dam is ready to hold water now.

The dam will serve to curb floods hitting Djibouti, the capital of the country where 75% of the population lives, it was built on the eponymous river.
The construction of the 71-meter high dam started in 2017, built by the ministry’s State Hydraulic Works agency, it will help store water for irrigation in the arid country which mostly depends on food imports from neighboring Ethiopia.

Despite its arid climate, Djibouti is exposed to floods when downpours hit the highlands surrounding the capital. The dam has a stock volume of 14 million cubic meters.

As part of its “Africa opening” that has seen closer relations with African countries under the tenure of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has been boosting bilateral relations with Djibouti, which gained momentum after 2012 when the Djibouti Embassy in Turkey was established.

To further boost bilateral ties, Turkish Airlines has had direct flights between the two countries since 2012, while TİKA inaugurated an office in the country in 2012, too, carrying out numerous projects. So far, 60 protocols, memorandums of understanding and conventions have been signed in areas such as energy, health and the economy.

Djibouti has also allocated 5 million square meters to Turkey to establish special economic zones.

Ethiopian PM to mediate between Sudan’s military and protesters: diplomatic source

Ethiopian PM to mediate between Sudan’s military and protesters: diplomatic source


Source: Reuters, Friday June 7, 2019

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will visit Khartoum on Friday to mediate between Sudan’s military rulers and an opposition alliance over a transition to democracy, a diplomatic source at the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum said.

The source told Reuters that Abiy would meet members of Sudan’s Transitional Military Council and the opposition’s Declaration of Freedom and Change Forces (DFCF) during his one-day vis

Sudan: UN chief deplores excessive force used against pro-democracy protesters, calls on military and civillian leaders to ‘stay the course’ in negotiations

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Sudan: UN chief deplores excessive force used against pro-democracy protesters, calls on military and civilian leaders to ‘stay the course’ in negotiations

Source UN,  3 June 2019

Ahmed Bahhar/Masarib
Protesters take to streets in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. (11 April 2019)

3 June 2019

Security forces in Sudan fired on pro-democracy protesters in the capital Khartoum on Monday, leaving a number of dead and many more injured, prompting the United Nations chief’s condemnation and an appeal for “peaceful dialogue” to resume.

Secretary-General António Guterres “strongly condemns the violence” and “the use of force to disperse the protestors at the sit-in site”, said a statement issued by his Spokesperson, adding he was also alarmed at reports that “security forces have opened fire inside medical facilities”.

Mr. Guterres reminded the Transitional Military Council of its responsibility for “the safety and security of the citizens of Sudan”, and urged all parties to “act with utmost restraint”, including their responsibility to uphold “the human rights of all citizens, including the right to freedom of assembly and of expression”

He also called for “unimpeded access to deliver essential care” at the sit-in site outside army headquarters in the capital Khartoum, and in hospitals “where the wounded are treated” and urged the Sudanese authorities to “facilitate an independent investigation into the deaths and to hold those responsible accountable”.

“The Secretary-General urges the parties to pursue peaceful dialogue and to stay the course in the negotiations over the transfer of power to a civilian-led transitional authority, as required by the African Union (AU)”, the statement continued.

It concluded with the UN chief’s commitment to working with the AU in support of the process, saying that the UN “stands ready to support the Sudanese stakeholders in their efforts to build lasting peace”.

For her part, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called the peaceful demonstrations in Sudan “an inspiration” as the protesters worked “to engage with the Transitional Military Council”.

“I utterly deplore the apparent use of excessive force in the protest camps” she said.

Ms. Bachelet noted that reports stating that live ammunition was used by security forces next to, and even inside, medical facilities are “extremely alarming”.

“I urge the security forces to immediately halt such attacks, and to ensure safe, unimpeded access to medical care for all”, she asserted.

Ms. Bachelet stressed that “those exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression must be protected, not targeted or detained”, calling it “a fundamental tenet of international human rights law”.

“The use of excessive force must be promptly and independently investigated and those responsible brought to justice” she spelled out, adding that the human rights violations that have marked Sudan’s history, and sparked the sustained protests over the past six months, “must not be allowed to continue”.

“This is a real setback”, she concluded.

When the three-decade autocratic rule of President Omar al-Bashir ended in a military takeover in April, hope sprung anew in the African nation. However, as talks faltered between the ruling Transitional Military Council and protesters’ leaders over the timetable for civilian rule, violence ensued.

Sudan developments, at a glance

  • 19 December 2018 – Protests erupt after the announcement of rising prices.
  • 22 February 2019 – President Bashir dissolves the government.
  • 24 February – Security forces fire live ammunition at protesters.
  • 6 April – Protesters at a sit-in outside military headquarters, vow not to move until former President Bashir steps down.
  • 11 April – Army generals announce that the president had been toppled, but protesters continue to demand civilian rule.
  • 20 April – Talks begin between military rulers and civilian leaders.
  • 13 May – Shooting outside military headquarters leaves six people dead.
  • 14 May – An agreed three-year transition period from military to civilian rule is announced.
  • 16 May – Talks postponed as the military demands that some barricades are removed.
  • 3 June – Activists accuse the military of using force against their sit-in protests, announcing the suspension of talks.

Kenya-Somalia maritime boundary row set to intensify as court’s verdict approaches

Kenya-Somalia maritime boundary row set to intensify as court’s verdict approaches


Source: Starndard Diginal, Kenya, Malkhadir Muhumed
Tuesday June 4, 2019

Somalia’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad "We’re not interested in a tit-for-tat. We’re interested in having a good relationship with Kenya"
Somalia’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad “We’re not interested in a tit-for-tat. We’re interested in having a good relationship with Kenya”


The relationship between Kenya and Somalia continued to deteriorate even as a verdict on the maritime boundary dispute between the two neighbours draws nearer.In a diplomatic letter sent to Somalia on May 21, Kenya threatened to use force if Somali citizens continued to obstruct or destroy the fence it is building along the two countries’ border.

“Any continued obstruction or destruction of the fence shall be responded to forcefully,” stated the letter signed by Kenya’s foreign ministry and delivered by Kenya’s mission in Mogadishu to Somalia’s ministry of foreign affairs on May 25.

Construction teams

In the letter, Kenya accuses Somalia of “continuously” obstructing the construction of the fence and using women and children to cause harm to security personnel and construction teams.

“Kenya is assessing the cost of damage caused by Somali citizens with a view of demanding compensation,” stated the two-page letter seen by The Standard.

In the letter, Kenya accuses Somalia of not reciprocating its goodwill.

“When Kenya suspended the construction of the fence for two weeks in 2017, it exhibited the highest level of patience, good faith, friendship and good neighbourliness.

“It is Kenya’s expectation that Somalia will reciprocate by taking appropriate action to ensure that Kenya’s border security is not obstructed or in any way inhibited by the actions of its citizens,” stated the letter.

Kenya, however, said it was ready and committed to undertaking what it described as “a boundary reaffirmation exercise” at the earliest opportunity as long as the matter was communicated through proper diplomatic channels.

Somalia has, however, denied that it is frustrating Kenya’s efforts to secure its border.

“The government of Somalia categorically rejects the allegation that it is in any way involved in the alleged conduct described in the aforementioned Note Verbale,” said Somalia in response to Kenya’s letter.

“The government of Somalia is, moreover, not aware of any and does not have any evidence of any damage caused by its citizens to the wall/fence. Should the Government of Kenya wish to share relevant information with the government of Somalia, the latter would be happy to give it appropriate consideration,” wrote Somalia.Somalia proposed the formation of a technical and legal working group to iron out any differences between the two countries.

On the maritime border dispute that is currently pending before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Somalia said it would respect Kenya’s borders and expected the same from Kenya.

“The government of Somalia assures the Government of Kenya of its respect for the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kenya and trusts that the Government of Kenya equally respects the territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Somalia,” wrote Somalia in a letter dated May 29.

Between the lines, the letters spoke volumes of a diplomatic tussle between the two neighbours.

The Kenyan government has since ordered planes originating from Somalia to first land in Wajir.

On May 28, Kenya also banned unaccompanied luggage on planes from Somalia. Kenya is also said to have drawn a list of 66 Somalia officials banned from entering the country.

The secret list, whose existence The Standard learnt of from a source who didn’t want to be named, contains the names of a Somali Cabinet minister, a former prime minister, a member of parliament, the deputy head of Somalia’s intelligence agency and the owners of a telecommunication firm.

Kenyan nationals of Somali origin, some of whom are from the same clan as that of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo are also included in the list.

More restrictions

A source at Somalia’s presidency told The Standard on condition of anonymity that Mogadishu is bracing itself for more restrictions by Kenya against its officials and business people ahead of the ICJ’s verdict.

Somalia’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Isse Awad, however, told The Standard that Mogandishu was not ready to escalate the diplomatic tiff.

“We’re not interested in a tit-for-tat. We’re interested in having a good relationship with Kenya,” he said.

Awad laughed off reports that Kenya was aligning itself with Somalia’s regional administrations, particularly with the northern-western Somaliland region.

“It is the Somali government that gave Kenya the permission to set up a consulate in Hargeisa,” he said, referring to the region’s capital.

“Kenya has also allowed us to open a consulate in Mombasa if we want to,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision on the maritime boundary row between Kenya and Somalia is expected next year.

Should Kenya lose the case, it will lose about 100 square kilometres of waters rich with natural resources.

‘Bloody massacre’: Sudan forces kill at least 35, protesters say

‘Bloody massacre’: Sudan forces kill at least 35, protesters say


Source: Aljazeera, Tuesday June 4, 2019

Pro-democracy leaders have called on people to take part in night marches across the north African country [Anadolu]

UN condemns deadly Sudan crackdown as protesters call for ‘total civil disobedience’ to depose military rulers.

Sudanese protesters say at least 35 have been killed after security forces stormed the main protest camp in the capital, Khartoum, in the worst violence since the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir, drawing global condemnation.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), which spearheaded nationwide protests that started in December, said Monday’s crackdown amounted to a “bloody massacre”.

“We are holding the Transitional Military Council (TMC) responsible for what happened this morning,” the SPA said, referring to the military council which currently runs the country.Pro-democracy leaders have called on people to take part in night marches and block the main roads as part of “total civil disobedience” to “paralyse public life” across the country.

A doctors’ committee linked to the protesters said in a Facebook post on Monday that the death toll, which includes at least one child, had risen to at least 35, adding that it had been difficult to count in the sit-in area outside the military complex in Khartoum.

The group said hundreds of people had been wounded, mostly from gunfire, and that according to witnesses, bodies of protesters shot dead were disposed of in the Nile River near the site of the protest sit-in.

The United Nations condemned the use of excessive force by the security forces against protesters and called for an independent investigation into the killings.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement that he was “alarmed” by reports that security forces had opened fire inside a hospital in Khartoum.

“What is clear to us is that there was use of excessive force by the security forces on civilians. People have died. People have been injured,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Guterres urged Sudanese authorities to facilitate an independent investigation of the deaths and ensure that those responsible are held accountable. He also renewed his call for negotiations to resume on a peaceful transfer of power to a civilian-led authority.

‘Defy belief’

Witnesses said the main sit-in outside the defence ministry had been cleared. Footage shared on social media showed chaotic scenes of people fleeing through streets as sustained bursts of gunfire crackled in the air.

Protesters poured onto streets elsewhere in Khartoum and beyond in response, setting up barricades and roadblocks with rocks and burning tyres.

The doctors’ committee said forces had opened fire inside the city’s East Nile Hospital and had chased “peaceful protesters”.

It said another hospital near the site of the sit-in had been surrounded and that volunteers were prevented from reaching it.

The British ambassador to Sudan, Irfan Siddiq, tweeted that the attacks on hospitals and clinics “defy belief”.

“Those injured in today’s horrific attacks need unhindered access to medical treatment,” he said. “Medical centres must be a safe place.”

The TMC denied the attacks on hospitals, with spokesperson Lieutenant General Shams El Din Kabbashi saying security forces were pursuing “unruly elements” who had fled to the protest site and caused chaos.

“The Transitional Military Council regrets the way the situation unfolded, reaffirming its full commitment to the … safety of the citizens and renews its call for negotiations as soon as possible,” the TMC said in a statement.

The council is now overseeing a two-year transitional period during which it has pledged to hold presidential elections.

Demonstrators, however, have remained on the streets to demand the TMC relinquish power – at the earliest possible date – to a civilian authority.

‘Betrayal of trust’

The crackdown has elicited strong reactions from the international community, who are holding the TMC fully responsible for what has happened.

The African Union has called on the TMC and protest leaders to return “urgently” to negotiations, appeals which were echoed by Qatar and Germany.

The United States called the assault “wrong” and said it must be stopped.

Former British ambassador to Sudan, Rosalind Marsden, told Al Jazeera that it remains to be seen whether statements denouncing the TMC will be followed by concrete action.

“Will there be a UN Security Council discussion on this in the next few days?” she said, speaking from London.

“Some of the opposition leaders are asking the UN Security Council and the African Union to demand an immediate transfer of power from the Transitional Military Council to a democratic civilian government led by the Forces of Freedom and Change, as well as an immediate end to Sudan’s internal wars,” she continued.

Marsden called the military crackdown “a major step backwards in achieving stability in Sudan”.

“The protest movement regards what happened this morning as a major betrayal of trust of the Sudanese people who were ready to regard the TMC as partners in the process of democratisation,” she said.

UN to cut 1,000 troops from Somalia force

UN to cut 1,000 troops from Somalia force


Source: AFP, Friday May 31, 2019

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The United Nations Security Council decided Friday to cut 1,000 troops from a regional peacekeeping force in Somalia, despite a rise in attacks by the Al-Shabaab militia in Mogadishu.

The council voted unanimously to draw down the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), but left the door open for the council to revisit that decision if violence worsens.

The resolution put forward by Britain reduces AMISOM troops by 1,000 to a ceiling of 19,626 by February 28, but maintains 1,040 police. The force’s mandate was extended for a year.

Under a transition plan agreed in 2017, AMISOM will gradually hand over security to Somali forces, but the African Union has raised concern about the extra responsibility as the country heads to elections next year.

The United Nations is seeking to shore up stability in Somalia, where Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab fighters have been seeking to topple the government for a decade.The Shabaab were chased out of Mogadishu in 2011 by AMISOM, and have had to abandon most of their strongholds, but they still control vast rural areas and remain the key threat to peace in Somalia.

A joint AU-UN security review presented to the council this month raised alarm over a surge of Shabaab attacks in the capital including a January 1 mortar assault on the UN compound.

In March alone, Al-Shabaab carried out two major attacks in Mogadishu using 28 improvised explosive devices, said the review.

Last week, a former Somali foreign minister was among five people killed in a car bombing in Mogadishu that was claimed by the Shabaab.

AMISOM was established in 2007 and includes troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda deployed in south and central Somalia.

UN strongly condemns murder of UN national staff security officer in Galkayo

UN strongly condemns murder of UN national staff security officer in Galkayo


Source: UNSOM, Saturday June 1, 2019

The Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Somalia, Raisedon Zenenga, condemned in the strongest possible terms the murder of the UN local security assistant Mohamed Abdi Khayre as he was leaving a mosque in the city of Galkayo yesterday evening

No individual or group has thus far claimed responsibility for the killing of Mr. Khayre, who was rushed to a local hospital but later died of his wounds.

“We mourn the passing of Mr. Khayre, who served with distinction in the UN Department of Safety and Security during his tenure with the organization,” said Mr. Zenenga. “We urge the authorities to spare no effort in tracking down the gunmen responsible for this heinous murder of a courageous colleague who put himself in harm’s way to protect UN personnel based in the city of Galkayo. The entire UN family in Somalia extends their heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Khayre.”

Ethiopia sorry for map which wipes out Somalia

Ethiopia sorry for map which wipes out Somalia


Source: BBC, Monday May 27, 2019


Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it “sincerely regrets” that a map of Africa which incorporated Somalia into Ethiopia had “crept on its website”.

The ministry added that it removed the “wrong and unacceptable” map as soon as it became aware of it.

The map erased Somalia, but showed the breakaway state of Somaliland.
The ministry’s statement did not explain how the map appeared on its website, but said: “Please be assured that our ICT team is working to ensure the security of the website. We sincerely regret any confusion and misunderstanding this incident might have caused.”
The map caused an uproar among Somalis on social media, with some saying it was part of a wider plan by Ethiopia to annex their country.

US diplomat succeeds ousted UN envoy for Somalia

US diplomat succeeds ousted UN envoy for Somalia


Source: AFP, Thursday May 30, 2019

A former US special representative to Somalia who also served as Washington’s ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo was named Thursday to be the next United Nations envoy to Somalia, replacing an emissary who was expelled four months ago.

James Swan will replace Nicholas Haysom, who was declared persona non grata by Somalia’s government in January after he raised human rights concerns.

Haysom, a South African lawyer and experienced diplomat, was told to leave Somalia after he questioned the government’s decision to arrest an Al-Shabaab defector who was running for elected office.

He served in the post for three months.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq announced Swan’s appointment, saying he was an “experienced diplomat with a long international career.” Haq said he was expected to take up the post as soon as possible.Swan was US ambassador to the DR Congo from 2013 to 2016, US envoy for Somalia from 2011 to 2013 and US ambassador to Djibouti from 2008 to 2011. He also served as US deputy assistant secretary of state for Africa.

The United Nations is seeking to shore up stability in Somalia, where al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab fighters have been fighting for a decade to topple the government..

Gulf States Change Financing Dynamics in Horn of Africa

Gulf States Change Financing Dynamics in Horn of Africa

Source: The American Enterprise Institute published on 23 April 2019
The American Enterprise Institute published on 23 April 2019 an analysis titled “Sudan’s Windfall from the Gulf and the Perils of New Development Finance” by Karen E. Young.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced in April a $3 billion support package for Sudan. This is one in a long list of financial transfers from the Gulf States to the Horn of Africa. It marks a step away from the traditional role of international financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank and puts in doubt development aid financing that follows Bretton Woods principles.

Rethinking Stabilization Efforts in Somalia

Rethinking Stabilization Efforts in Somalia

Source: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published on 9 May 2019
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute published on 9 May 2019 an analysis titled “Rethinking Stabilization Efforts in Somalia” by Giovanni Faleg, European Union Institute for Security Studies.

The planned withdrawal of AMISOM in 2021 from Somalia threatens all stabilization programs. Without substantial support, the Somali National Army will not be able to maintain its territorial gains. The author proposes a three part plan for stabilizing Somalia before AMISOM departs.

East Africa in 2050: Nations will die, new borders will emerge – by Charles Onyango-Obbo

East Africa in 2050: Nations will die, new borders will emerge – by Charles Onyango-Obbo

East Africa in 2050: Nations will die, new borders will emerge–By Charles Onyango-Obbo

Source: December 18, 2011, East African

The wider East African region is special – and even notorious – in Africa. In the past 18 years it has produced more new or wanna-be-new nations than all of Africa combined. In 1993 Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed a mutual and happy divorce. The good vibes didn’t last; they became bitter enemies and fought after it happened.

In 1991, after the Siad Barre regime was overthrown, Somalia plunged into chaos. A few years later Puntland hived itself off as a semi-independent nation. Somaliland too jumped ship. Unlike Puntland, which is open to joining a future, peaceful Somalia federation or confederation, Somaliland is determined to be independent.In February this year, South Sudan voted by nearly 100 per cent to secede from Sudan, and in July formally became Africa’s newest country. That is four major border remakes in less than 20 years. How many new countries have arisen in the rest of Africa as a result of a break-up of existing countries (Saharawi Republic doesn’t count)? ZERO!! Precisely because secessionist and breakaway demons roam the wider East Africa, the feeling is that over the next 20 to 50 years, we shall see more nations breaking up or being swallowed as others grow.

For anyone interested in the future borders of what is sometimes called the Greater Horn of Eastern Africa (GHEA) – comprising Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo – two studies are recommended. The first is a popular piece of work “Fluid Borders: Integration, Federation, and Fragmentation”, by the Society for International Development (SID) which was published in its journal Greater Horn of Eastern Africa Outlook (November 2010).

The second was by one of Africa’s leading border experts, Wafula Okumu, who now works with the African Union’s Border Programme. His “Resources and borders disputes in Eastern Africa”, published in the July 2010 issue of the Journal of Eastern African Studies is a fascinating look at how Africa’s borders were made. Okumu argues that contrary to the dominant view, not all colonial borders were arbitrarily drawn. There was a lot of logic to the madness. Colonial powers, according to Okumu, drew borders on the basis of some cold logic; to secure known mineral wealth, and to control rivers and lakes – one reason why natural features became border makers.

Secondly, he argues, after the British were routed in the Second Anglo-Boer war, they studied the reasons for their defeat and reached the kind of conclusion African generals and politicians wouldn’t – they lost because of the poor quality and lack of detailed maps for the British military. They formed the Colonial Survey Committee to draw up maps of Africa – and the exercise was largely done by the military. “To the military, a map of features could be more important than a detailed and accurate demarcation of a boundary,” he writes. But one of the most eye-popping gems in the articles, is the citation that, “For all of Africa, only 200,000 square miles of territory had been surveyed in detail by 1914, when some 3.8 million square miles remained unexplored by Europeans.”

I’ll dwell on two of the many implications that can be drawn from this. First, because the focus of colonial borders was more on dividing up mineral and natural resources, it can be expected that future border conflicts in Africa – as both the GHEA Outlook and Okumu note – will come from disputes over resources. Secondly, because most African borders were based on a military and resource logic, not much social engineering went into them. We can confidently predict, therefore, that a future cultural remake of our borders is inevitable.

There is, for example, talk among Luo revivalist nationalists in northern Uganda, northeast DR Congo, South Sudan (and indeed Kenya) of the re-creation of a greater Lado Republic (in 1912 the Lado Enclave stretched from Sudan to a large part of northern Uganda). This would see bits of northern and northeastern Uganda and South Sudan forming a big Luo nation.

In Rwanda during the war that eventually ended after the 1994 genocide, in which over one million people were killed, at one point there were Tutsi hardline purists in the rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front who were pushing for a “two-state” solution; a Tutsi one in the east, where they would never have to endure torment by the majority Hutu, and a Hutu one in the rest of the country. The idea was eventually discredited. In Kenya, apart from the Somali secessionists in the northeast, in more recent times a secessionist movement has emerged in the Coast. This would be a kind of Swahili-Arab East African Republic that, according to some of its militant advocates, would include Zanzibar Island – which would swim away from mainland Tanzania.

There was a time when Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was wont to talk about an East and Central African mega state built on the basis of “Bantu commonality”.

One country that must be lucky to still be in one piece is DR Congo. Ten years ago there was a real fear that the vast and rich, but thinly and badly governed country, would be carved up into at least three. One, to the southeast, would be a Rwanda dominion, probably controlled by the Banyamulenge. The other to the east would be run by a Ugandan puppet regime. And the West would be left to the dominant Kinshasa elite.

On the other hand, closer home, Tanzania is thought by some observers to have become “too big” for the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to manage – or that the country can be managed easily, but CCM has become too unimaginative for the task. And that as its hold on power slips in the year to come, Tanzania could be vulnerable. All these and more scenarios could still come true. However, the exact forces that could determine this are likely to play out from what we can foresee today.

We think borders are likely to be remade out of a dire need to survive. Countries threatened with extinction because they have run out of water or energy, will have little choice but to attack those that have a lot of it – and secure future supplies through conquest.

The GHEA Outlook and Okumu did not, for understandable reasons, examine what countries that achieve technological superiority might do to turn it to their advantage. Some GHEA countries might fail as states, while others will succeed as powerful democracies, redistributing power and conferring the ability to redraw borders on the successful ones. Within the next 30 to 50 years, East Africa borders could be very different.

What is the full range of these creative but disruptive forces that might redesign the region, and what might the new borders that will grow out of the process look like? Here are possible scenarios

SCENARIO 1: THE WATER POWERS

The first force driving border changes could be water and fuel. Virtually all the countries in the region, except Tanzania, face serious water stress in the next few years. Kenya is the most stressed: each Kenyan only has 636 cubic metres of water a year, compared with 1,270 cubic metres in Uganda and 2,035 in Tanzania. As a rule of thumb, hydrologists consider 2,000 cubic metres per person per year as the point when a country is considered “water-stressed”, and 1,000 cubic metres as when the situation is critical, and a country is “water-scarce”. So Kenya is “finished”. Water scarcity is likely to hit Uganda by 2035, and water stress will hit the country even earlier, by the year 2020.  At the present rate of deforestation, it is predicted that Uganda is likely to be importing fuel wood by 2020. Nairobi water demand stands at 750,000 cubic metres a day against a supply capacity of 530,000 cubic metres. It is projected that the daily demand in 2020 will stand at 1.6 million cubic metres and climb to 2.2 million cubic metres by 2030. So Nairobi City could collapse. In this scenario, the most successful countries will be the water-rich ones or those that have been smart at environmental management: In this scenario, Rwanda and a resurgent DR Congo could eat up Uganda; and Tanzania will become the regional superpower, swallowing most of Kenya. South Sudan will take a chunk of Kenyan and Ethiopian territory.

SCENARIO 2: THE DEMOCRACY POWERS

The future of most East African nations is uncertain, because the political elite have not arrived at a long-term deal on power sharing and enshrined it in a constitution. As a result, the regimes in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Ethiopia all today still need to call out the army or special forces to beat back the opposition. The only country, paradoxically, that has solved this problem is Kenya. It is the only nation in the sub region where, in the past two years, the power class has worked itself into a position where it can hold power through trickery, patronage, and sweet-talking without bringing out the army. In July this year, Kenya’s government became the first in Africa — and one of the first in the world — to be completely data open. It has a level of openness on government data that is higher than the US’s. If it can leverage all these into political dividends and the other nations don’t sort themselves out quickly, it is easy to see Kenya becoming a Democracy Top Dog and swallowing half of South Sudan, most of Uganda, and a chunk of Tanzania to become a mind-bogglingly expanded nation.

SCENARIO 3: THE RESOURCE POWERS (ENERGY & MINERALS)

When it comes to resources, Kenya does badly, as do Rwanda and Burundi, and Somalia. Rwanda’s main resource is natural gas, with 56 billion cubic metres of natural gas reserves. The resource king in the region is DRC. According to a recent report by Africa Business, the country has $24 trillion worth of untapped mineral deposits, which is equivalent to the GDP of Europe and the United States combined. The DRC has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt and significant quantities of the world’s diamonds, gold and copper. This makes the DRC potentially the richest country in the world. Then there is Tanzania. It has gold reserves of 45 million ounces, and is currently the third-largest gold producer in Africa. A recent geological survey revealed 209 million tonnes of nickel reserves, 50.9 million carats of diamond, and 103 million tonnes of iron ore, as well as 6.5 billion cubic metres of natural gas. Uganda is oil rich, with 1.5 billion barrels of oil reserves. South Sudan too has 3.5 billion – 5 billion barrels of oil reserves.

In this scenario, Tanzania will ingest Burundi, Uganda and DRC would eat Rwanda for lunch, and Kenya would all but disappear, being carved up between Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan. Ethiopia would, largely, remain intact.

SCENARIO 4: THE TECHNOLOGY POWERS

Despite lack of natural resources, a country can rise to power through innovation and becoming a leader in science and industry (as Japan teaches us). In East Africa today, the two nations investing heavily in technology innovation are Kenya and Rwanda. Kenya is now dubbed “the Silicon Savannah”.

Rwanda is also investing in IT education, and public health care like no other East African nation. Kenya’s private sector medical industry is years ahead of its peers. Kenya’s innovative capacity is ranked an impressive 52nd globally [third in Africa after Tunisia at 49th and South Africa at 51st], with high company spending on R&D and good scientific research institutions that collaborate well with the business sector in research activities (Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12, Word Economic Forum). The Global Competitiveness Report also showed Kenya with the second highest number of utility patents (i.e. patents for innovation) granted in sub-Saharan Africa, and fifth in Africa if you include Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria, at 0.02 patents per million of the population, which translates into 800,000 patents.

Kenyan operator Safaricom became the first-ever telecom company to create a mass mobile-banking service, setting industry standards now being copied from California to Kabul. By May of this year, Ushahidi, a crowd-sourcing platform developed in Nairobi in early 2008, which is free to download, had been used 14,000 times in 128 countries to map everything from last year’s earthquake in Haiti to this year’s Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring.

If technology, innovation and the development of the health industry are the future, then Kenya and Rwanda will chew up Uganda, and Rwanda will gobble up Burundi and a large swathe of eastern DRC. A large part of Tanzania, and South Sudan would become Kenya territory. Interestingly, this is probably the only scenario where Somalia survives. It’s a fairly innovative country in communications, so it will survive. It will be reunited with Somaliland and Puntland, and take in the Somali/Ogaden of Ethiopia.

SCENARIO 5: THE ENERGY-AND-FOOD-HUNGRY MILITARY POWERS

The next group of winners could be countries that reasonably stabilise their internal politics, grow their economies and build strong militaries, but have no food and energy to run on. These countries will take account of the rich ones that have resources, but are disorganised, have weak militaries, and chaotic politics.

In this scenario, Rwanda will thrive. Uganda might just get by, but not enough to grow out much. Burundi might survive. Kenya, whose real military strength, it emerges, has been grossly underestimated from what we are learning from its Somalia campaign and with an interesting new political order, will thrive as well as Rwanda. Ethiopia too will do quite well. There are questions about Tanzania in this picture, as there are about South Sudan, and Somalia is a write off. So, Rwanda will expand and absorb DR Congo and its resources. Burundi too will expand considerably into the DR Congo and parts of Tanzania. There will be a small portion of DRC left that Uganda will pick up. Uganda will also pick up a little of South Sudan, but most of it will go Ethiopia and Kenya. Kenya and Ethiopia will divvy up Somalia. Kenya might get a little bite of Tanzania. Whatever the case, Tanzania will shrink.

Sudan, Algeria, Libya: new Arab spring stalls as Trump looks away

Sudan, Algeria, Libya: new Arab spring stalls as Trump looks away


Source: Guardian, Sunday May 26, 2019
Simon Tisdall

Protesters gather outside the military headquarters in Khartoum last week demanding regime change. Photograph: Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP

The US once led western states’ support of democracy around the world, but under this president that feels like a long time ago

There was a time, not so very long ago, when the US was held up as a model for other nations to emulate. That time has passed. Last week witnessed more gratuitous international hooliganism by the Trump administration. Its latest depredations include extra-territorial bullying of trade and business rivals, violent threats against Iran, an absurdly biased “peace plan” for Palestine, resumed arms sales to fuel the Saudis’ war in Yemen, and an assault on global press freedom.

Anger and dismay over Donald Trump’s wildly swinging wrecking ball obscure they ways in which the US could be using its unmatched power to benefit others – but refuses to do so. Its current policy is defined by its absences. Once again, Syrian civilians are dying in a horrific war Trump has done nothing to halt. Alarm bells are ringing over the climate crisis and mass extinction – yet Trump’s people prefer to focus on economic opportunities afforded by a melting Arctic ice cap.

The US once stood in the vanguard of western states promoting democratic governance and respect for universal human and civil rights. Its record was imperfect, but at least it tried – most of the time. Under Trump, authoritarian regimes from Russia and Egypt to Brazil, the Philippines, North Korea and Myanmar are not only tolerated, they are positively encouraged. Progressive forces that counted on American support, and the American example, can no longer do so.Nowhere is this more evident than in Sudan right now, where the people’s revolt that began last December against Omar al-Bashir’s military-backed regime is at risk of failing. Despite its size and strategic importance, Sudan receives scant attention in the west. Yet when consideration is given to its passionate quest for democracy, its internal struggles with Islamists, and the possibility it could explode into civil war, like Syria, Libya and Yemen, that neglect looks short-sighted.

The US record in Sudan is mixed. Bill Clinton bombed Khartoum in 1998 over alleged connections with al-Qaida. Washington helped broker the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement that foreshadowed South Sudan’s independence. Until recently, it maintained sanctions on the regime. Now, with Bashir under arrest and the military off balance, a rare chance has arisen to help move Sudan firmly into the democratic camp. Yet what is the US doing? If anything, it is pushing the other way.

Foreign diplomats and analysts describe US policy as confused or non-existent. Relations between the Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), the opposition’s organising force, and the US embassy in Khartoum are said to be strained. One opposition official told Foreign Policy magazine that talking to the Americans was “a waste of time”. A meeting in Washington earlier this month of western countries, the UN and the African Union failed to agree a joint course of action.

Rather than seize the moment, the US (and by default, Britain, the former colonial power) has passed the initiative to Trump’s hard-faced buddies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. These countries backed Bashir and are now backing (and financing) attempts to revive the pre-coup status quo under new leadership. Sudan’s protesters were clear from the start that the regime, and not just its senior figures, must change. It is this crucial battle they are in danger of losing.

This ultra-conservative, nationalist Arab axis, marching in ideological lock-step with Trump, has its own candidate for Sudan’s next strongman. General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is deputy leader of the transitional military council. He also heads the feared Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a large paramilitary group that evolved from the Janjaweed militia implicated in the Darfur genocide. Sporadic, lethal attacks on street demonstrators earlier this month were blamed on the RSF.

Dagalo has easily eclipsed the head of the military council and Sudan’s temporary leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. It was Dagalo’s insistence on having an inbuilt majority in a proposed civilian-military power-sharing government that triggered last week’s breakdown in talks with the opposition. And when the SPA called a general strike in response, it was Dagalo who threatened reprisals. It is unclear what the opposition, split over tactics and running out of steam, can do now. The danger of a descent into violence is real and ever-present.

The shining city on a hill has, in the era of Trump, become a darkly tarnished keep from which to browbeat the world

Dagalo claims he is not seeking power, but his ambition is obvious. He said last week he was overseeing judicial proceedings against Bashir and 25 regime figures detained since the coup – thereby controlling the process and ensuring they pose no threat to the new order. At the end of the week, he personally received the royal seal of approval from Trump’s principal Arab ally, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, at a private meeting in Jeddah.

Outsourcing US foreign policy to Trump-like “strongmen” and friendly regional proxies is now an established trend. In neighbouring Libya’s rekindled civil war, Trump backs a renegade general, Khalifa Haftar, who is also supported by the Saudis and UAE. Likewise, the White House gave a warm welcome to Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, another instinctive autocrat who hijacked a popular revolution. As in Sudan, hopes of root-and-branch reform in Algeria, where a figurehead president was forced out last month, are fading amid army machinations and American and European indifference.

Perhaps it is incorrect to say the US no longer leads by example. A depressingly large number of world leaders now take their cue from Trump, aping his regressive, self-serving and adversarial outlook.

The totemic American founding vision of “a shining city on a hill”, symbolising a land of freedom and justice, has in the era of Trump become a darkly tarnished keep from which to browbeat, exploit – or ignore – the world.

EU pledges to support peace in the Horn of Africa

EU pledges to support peace in the Horn of Africa
Source: EU
Saturday May 25, 2019

The European Union is renewing its support for peace in the Horn of African even as peacekeepers in Somalia struggle with reduced funding.

This was the message the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini delivered in her round trip to Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

These happen to be four out of the five troop-contributing countries to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), which is still grappling with the United Nations Security Council resolution for a phased drawdown.

Security in the region was her main agenda in the meeting with Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh and the African Union Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat.

It came at a time when the ongoing diplomatic rift between Kenya and Somalia over the marine boundary is threatening to derail the war against Al Shabaab.

“We have had discussions around regional peace and security matters as well as integration. We discussed co-operation in Somalia, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo as well as my request for EU support for Kenya’s bid for the UNSC,” she said after meeting Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dr Monica Juma.
In Somalia, Ms Mogherini described her visit as part of the EU’s friendship, partnership and support for President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

According to a release from the EU External Action, Ms Mogherini while in Somalia, visited the EU Training Mission, Somalia troops and EU Capacity Building Mission for Somalia personnel.

The EU remains one of the biggest Somalia donors. In 2017, the EU pledged that member states will invest $1.03 billion that will bring the total support to Somalia to $4.5 billion till 2020.

This includes the EU providing Amisom salaries s well as salaries for police, development aid and $596 million for humanitarian assistance alone, to tackle the devastating effects of the drought in Somalia.

Oil blocks: Kenya flexes muscle in row with Somalia

Oil blocks: Kenya flexes muscle in row with Somalia


Source: Daily Nation Kenya, By AGGREY MUTAMBO
Wednesday May 22, 2019

Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma addressing journalists outside her Nairobi office on May 21, 2019 on her talks with European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini (not in frame). Kenya and Somalia are wrangling over territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma addressing journalists outside her Nairobi office on May 21, 2019 on her talks with European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini (not in frame). Kenya and Somalia are wrangling over territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Kenya is flexing its diplomatic muscles in its row with Somalia, which it accuses of continuing to violate its territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons by launching investment programmes in the disputed area.The Nation learnt that Kenya is taking measures to put pressure on Mogadishu. These include withdrawing privileges given to senior government officials, resuming stringent measures for Somali aircraft, engaging with friendly federal states, as well as tactical withdrawal of Kenyan security forces from areas they had liberated in Somalia before a transition programme is implemented.

On Tuesday, three members of the Somali delegation who had travelled to Nairobi for the launch of a European Union-sponsored cross-border conflict management programme were sent back to Mogadishu after Immigration authorities said they had no valid visas.

The three — junior minister for water and energy Osman Liban and lawmakers Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir — were refused entry at the Nairobi airport for lacking visas despite holding diplomatic passports.

VISAS

The officials later claimed they had been ambushed with the demand for visas, which they used to get on arrival at the airport.

Asked for comment, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma told reporters in Nairobi that the Somali officials should have obtained visas as is required.

“All of us travel with visas so, if you do not have it it can be very difficult,” she said after meeting with EU Foreign Policy boss Federica Mogherini.

Although Ms Juma said she did not have a clear picture of what had happened to the officials, she indicated she “would be very surprised if anybody was turned away with a visa”.

The Kenyan government has previously publicly criticised Somalia’s organising oil-block marketing conferences.

This was just one in a series of actions taken by Nairobi to protest at Somalia’s continuing implementation of a timeline that would culminate in oil blocks being dished out to investors.

PETROLEUM LAW

The move came as the Somali House of Representatives passed amendments to the 2008 Petroleum Act, allowing the Upper House to routinely determine a revenue-sharing formula between the national government and the six federal states.“The Petroleum law will enable the long-term development of the country and provide the resource to establish infrastructure crucial for long-term prosperity,” said Somalia’s ministry of petroleum and mineral resources in a statement.

“With the passage of the Petroleum Law, it is anticipated that Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) will subsequently be signed, which will enable exploration activity to then commence and hopefully lead to discoveries.”

Although the Somali ministry insisted that “no blocks in the area currently under dispute with Kenya will be part of this or future licensing rounds until settlement is reached”, the geographical location of some of the 15 blocks in question is in dispute.

BILATERAL RELATIONS

Somalia sued Kenya in 2014 at the International Court of Justice seeking to redraw the sea boundary as an extension of the land border, causing the future ownership of the blocks to remain uncertain.

Yet Somalia’s programme on the 15 blocks means a potential bid date for blocks could be November 7, 2019 as the hearing of the case goes on. Nairobi sees this timeline as a violation of the need to wait for the case to be determined.

As Somalia refused to withdraw the case, Kenyan officials say Nairobi will continue with tougher measures on Mogadishu that will include freezing certain bilateral agreements.

On Monday evening, Immigration officials told the group they should have obtained visas at the Kenyan Embassy in Mogadishu before proceeding.

The three later told Somali Radio Dalsan they had been told they would have to return to Mogadishu, though some of their colleagues travelling on foreign passports had been allowed in.

“The Kenyan authorities at the airport informed these guys that such [a] plan has changed, and now everyone has to obtain a visa from Kenya’s Mission in Mogadishu,” a senior Somali official in the delegation who travelled on a foreign passport told the Nation on Monday night.