Kenya’s security minister meets Somali President over border tensions

Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i (fourth from left) and Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo (fourth from right) pose for a photo with a delegation of Kenyan and Somali officials. PHOTO: COURTESY

Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on Sunday met Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo in a bid to ease cross-border tensions between the two nations.

Matiang’i was sent by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to lead a delegation of top government officials for the visit as both nations seek to resolve the latest dispute between them.

“Following the recent wave of security challenges along the Kenya-Somalia border, some senior state officers and I have been dispatched by President Kenyatta to meet his counterpart, with a view to ironing out the persistent cross-border issues,” Matiang’i tweeted on Sunday.

Tensions between the two countries flared up recently when Jubbaland forces and troops of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) clashed at the border town of Mandera.

The heavy fighting left at least 10 people injured, of whom six were reported to be civilians. Local media reported that the fighting also forced many residents flee from their homes and seek refuge elsewhere.

Kenya is accused of harbouring Abdirashid Janan, a former security minister in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Jubaland state who disappeared from police custody in Mogadishu in January.

Janan had been arrested in August last year at the Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu on accusations of serious human rights violations and killings in Gedo by the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG).

The FGS soldiers have been camping in Bula Hawa, a town near Mandera, for weeks attempting to capture Janan.

The Daily Nation reported last month that Janan was believed to be hiding in a hotel in Mandera and his security was immediately taken over by Kenyan agencies following his arrival in the town.

The Somali government said that harbouring a dangerous fugitive could seriously endanger the good relations that have existed between the two nations.

Local leaders have said that the presence of Janan is causing unnecessary tension in an area which already is grappling with the threat of attacks from Islamist group Al-Shabaab.

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