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How Somalia, Djibouti outwitted Kenya in IGAD chairmanship battle

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo [L] greets Djibouti president Ismail Omar Guelleh [R]

NAIROBI, Kenya - Simmering tensions between Nairobi and Mogadishu played a major role in the outcome of the Intergovernmental Authority Development (IGAD) summit which concluded on Friday.

Sudan was picked as a compromised candidate for chairmanship position ostensibly to avoid fallout between Kenya and Djibouti who were locked up in succession battle.

Abdalla Hamdok, the Sudanese Prime Minister who is in charge of the transition government effectively takes over as the chairman of the regional group from Abiy Ahmed.

A source within Kenya's Foreign Affairs department says the last minute 'coalition' between Somalia and Djibouti 'killed Kenya's quest.

"The two ganged up to deliberately thwart our bid. Djibouti demanded chair while Somalia went for Executive Secretary thus complicating succession," he said in confidence.

This, he added: "Forced member states to carefully handle the situation by lobbying for comprise. Remember Kenya and Djibouti will face in UNSC battle."

Besides both Kenya and Djibouti losing out in the seat following a well-negotiated consensus, Ethiopia's Workneh Gebeyuhu took over as Executive Secretary.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs minister Monica Juma, who attended the summit on Friday, welcomed the new changes in IGAD.

"Sudan assumed chair while Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu took over the Executive Secretary position from Eng Mahboub Maalim. Critically summit agreed to engage in a revitalization process of IGAD.)," She said in a tweet.

Since 2006 when it was first founded, IGAD's top posts have been held in rotation between Kenya and Ethiopia causing anxiety within member states.

With Nairobi now losing the IGAD top post, the official says, "We shall now give our best to clinch UNSC by defeating Djibouti."

Both Djibouti and Kenya will face each other in New York next year June. Kenya defeated Djibouti for the African Union vote but the Horn of Africa nation of determined to take the challenge to New York.

Somalia has closely worked with Djibouti since the escalation of the Indian Ocean maritime dispute with Kenya, with the case set to commence at The Hague next year.

President Mohamed Farmajo, who recently reconciled with his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, said: "We shall normalize our relationship without affecting the maritime case."

Mogadishu strongly supports Djibouti's quest for the UNSC seat. The tiny Horn of Africa nation is set to launch an official bid on December 5th.

For Kenya, Juma recently said, "The seat is important and we shall not leave anything to chance until we deliver it home."

Prof Harman Manyora, a political analyst in Kenya, has warned against 'antagonism' within the East Africa nations over diplomatic tussles.

"This competition should be settled based on consensus. If you allow the competition, we may end up affecting diplomatic ties," he told Garowe Online.


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