"We were pressured to dialogue with Kenya," says Somalia's FM

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MOGADISHU, Somalia - The AU and the Intergovernmental Authority for Development [IGAD] may have pressured Somalia the hold dialogue with Kenya over diplomatic spat, Mogadishu has suggested so, a day after a summit in Djibouti which focused on the duel between the two nations.

Tension has been building up along the Kenya-Somalia border in Mandera and the surrounding areas near Gedo with Somalia said to have deployed more soldiers to "protect our sovereignty". Kenya, which has often denied the claims, also has a huge presence of soldiers on either side of the border.

Mohamed Abdirizak, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Somalia, said IGAD leaders pressured Somalia that the issue with Kenya is solved within IGAD and that the first step is to de-escalate, which Somalia accepted on the condition that a committee will be appointed to look into the complaint by Somalia.

Somalia had accused Kenya of interfering with her internal politics and even wrote to IGAD to solve the tensions, but Kenya has always denied it. Mogadishu went ahead to claim that Kenya was arming militia in Gedo, a claim with Jubaland authorities dismissed as "bad propaganda".

And Abdirizak now says Somalia accepted the request on the condition that a commission is formed to investigate Somalia’s complaints, including arming of militias inside Kenya against Somalia. Mandera has been experiencing tensions since February this year.

The minister also expressed hope that the dispute between the two countries will be resolved, saying Somalia and Kenya are neighbors whose relationship is very important.

Somalia was hoping to indict Kenya at the summit, explaining its complaints that Kenya has been continuously interfering in Somalia affairs and violating its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Moussa Faki, the AU Commission chair, called for dialogue between Kenya and Somalia, arguing Nairobi remains a major partner in the peacekeeping mission in Somalia besides hosting thousands of refugees from the Horn of Africa nation.

Kenya has close to 3,500 soldiers in AMISOM who are operating in Lower Jubba and Gedo regions, where they have been battling against Al-Shabaab for almost 9 years.

GAROWE ONLINE

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