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The presidents of Kenya and Somalia smooth things over during the IGAD summit

Both leaders meet in person in their first meeting after the breakdown of diplomatic relations

The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and his Somali counterpart, Mohamed Abdullahi ‘Farmajo’ have held their first meeting in person this Sunday since the breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries after the Somali government accused the Kenyan of interference in its sovereignty within the framework of the electoral process and the internal conflict in their regions.

Despite the reports that pointed to Kenyatta’s absence, the meeting finally took place during the celebration of the extraordinary meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Djibouti, the scene of a meeting of extraordinary importance, given the political tension maintained by both countries since the beginning of the month.

“The strength of stability in our region is based on cooperation for growth and development,” said the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, on his official Twitter account, where he published images of the meeting between the two leaders. “I am happy, as leaders, that we can sit at the table and discuss urgent issues in our region,” he added.

It should be remembered that Somalia decided to expel the Kenyan ambassador and sever diplomatic ties with its neighboring country after denouncing attempts by Nairobi to promote separatism in the Somaliland and Jubaland regions.

Specifically, Somalia first accused Kenya of “open and blatant interference” by “applying enormous political pressure” on the leader of Jubaland, Ahmed Madobe, “in pursuing his interests in Somalia”, specifically by forcing Madobe to renege on a political agreement on the next elections, according to the version of the Somali government.

Then, Somalia announced on Monday the decision to break its diplomatic relations with Kenya, after the official visit this Sunday of the President of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, to Nairobi, where she met with senior officials of the Kenyan government.

Kenya has denied any involvement beyond its desire to promote “cordial relations” with both regions, according to the Government, while local authorities in Jubaland have denied the alleged accumulation of Kenyan paramilitary forces on the border between Kenya and Somalia, as denounced this Saturday the Somali authorities.

Also this Sunday, the United States announced the start of the process of withdrawing troops from Somalia by decision of the president, Donald Trump, in a gesture that could increase instability in a country where the US Army was considered the main containment levee against the fearsome terrorist group Al Shabaab.

Thus, US forces under US African Command will begin moving troops from Somalia to an undisclosed location within East Africa, the US Army has reported.

The redeployment of the nearly 700 US military personnel will be under the supervision of the Quartz Joint Intervention Force (Quartz), which will manage the redeployment operation of the same name, according to General Stephen Townsend, commander of the African command.

“We will execute this mission quickly, methodically, and with additional forces to protect both our partners and US forces,” added military spokesman Major Dagvin Anderson.

© 2020 Europa Press.

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