DJIBOUTI (Somaliguardian) – The Heads of State and Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) convene an extraordinary summit in Djibouti on Sunday to try to bring an end to heightening dispute between Kenya and Somalia, as tension continues to simmer over alleged polls interference and mobilization of militias for cross-border attacks.
Somalia had urged Sudan’s President Abdalla Hamdok, who is currently the chair of the East African block, to convene a summit of regional leaders to decide on Kenya’s interference in Somalia’s internal affairs, an assertion Kenya denies.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta and other IGAD leaders are attending the meeting in Djibouti on Sunday.
Somalia severed diplomatic ties with Kenya earlier this week over what it billed as Kenya’s ceaseless egregious attempts to annex parts of the country and summoned back staff at its embassy in Nairobi while setting a 7-day ultimatum for Kenyan diplomats to leave the country.
Over the past few days, there have been reports that Somali embassy in Nairobi has been closed while diplomats returned to Mogadishu.
Somali Foreign Minister Osman Abokor Dube hardened his tone on Saturday and accused Kenya of arming militias inside its territory to seize Somali army bases in the town of Balad-hawo in cross-border attacks.
Mr Dube stressed that Kenya was engaged in efforts to undermine both Somalia’s security and regional stability, and called for “urgent interventions” by IGAD, AU and UN Security Council.
Kenya has not immediately commented on the allegations.
Authorities of the Somali semi-autonomous region of Jubaland, who are affiliated to the government of Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, say the allegations aim to deflect public attention from guerillas established in Gedo and deployment of fresh troops to the region by the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
Kenya has more than 13,000 troops in Somalia fighting the Islamist group Al-Shabaab, which controls large swathes of territory in the country but it particularly protects allied Jubaland leader and his administration, whose stay in power is deemed a threat to the Somali incumbent president’s reelection bid.
IGAD leaders will also discuss the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region that has killed thousands and sent more than 50,000 reugees to neighboring Sudan.
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