National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale on Friday downplayed the diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia.
Duale said the relationship between the two countries remains intact. Kenya’s ambassador is still in Somalia helping that country’s nationals coming to Nairobi. Several NGOs from Somalia are still based in Nairobi, he said.
The Garissa Township MP told the BBC that considering the long-standing relationship between the neighbouring countries, it’s prudent for them to solve maritime disputes diplomatically.
“We have Somalia ministers in Kenya who are staying without any issue; there are also Somali nationals in Kenya who are not being harassed.”
But Duale was categorical that local Somali leaders are fully behind the government and no country can claim ownership of any part of Kenya.
“We would appeal to both President Uhuru Kenyatta and President Abdullahi Farmajo to consider brotherhood and neighbourhood that has been there for decades. I personally believe the issue (border row) can be solved amicably through dialogue,” he said.
A week ago, a section of Garissa leaders called for a diplomatic solution to the maritime boundary dispute.
The leaders, among them county assembly majority leader Mohamed Gabow, and Garissa peace committee secretary Hassan Osman, separately asked Somalia to withdraw the case it filed against Kenya at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in 2014.
The dispute is about the maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean. For Kenya, it is the line parallel to the line of latitude while Somalia insists it extends to the southeast as an extension of the land border.
In 2009, both countries agreed that the United Nations commission in charge of mediating border disputes should determine the borderline but Somali chose the ICJ route in 2014.
The bone of contention is a narrow triangle in the Indian Ocean, about 100,000 square kilometres which is said to have huge deposits of oil and gas.
On the denial of entry of Somali officials into Kenya, Duale said it was normal procedure for anyone to have requisite documents when travelling to another country.
Kenya recently also ordered that all planes coming from Somalia should pass through Wajir for check-ups. This was a decision arrived at by the security organs.