Kenya allows two flights to Somaliland despite ban
Kenya has authorized two planes to travel to Somaliland to deliver election materials despite the ban on air traffic with Somalia.
A diplomatic clearance MFA / PRO.91 / 002 (052) on Thursday said two planes operated by Astral Aviation would be allowed to deliver the material from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, via Djibouti and to Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.
A MacDonnell Douglas DCC-9F and a Boeing B727-727F, both registered in Kenya, will be allowed to deliver the material between May 13 and May 15 with the possibility of extension in case of delay.
“Please note that the authorization is granted with a 72-hour window to deal with any delays,” the Kenyan Foreign Ministry’s note to the Somaliland liaison office said on Thursday.
Somaliland, the breakaway region that considers itself independent from Somalia, is due to hold local and parliamentary elections on May 31, another sign of its growing democracy.
But Somalia is currently at the heart of a political stalemate as parties have yet to agree on a date or location for the elections, three months after President Mohamed Farmaajo’s four-year term expired.
However, Mogadishu suffered a diplomatic dispute with Kenya, accusing Nairobi of interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs, Kenya denied. Last week, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority suspended flights between Kenya and Somalia for three months, except for medical evacuations and humanitarian deliveries.
The move, the Nation has learned, came after Somalia grounded two planes belonging to the Kenyan company Bluebird Aviation that the Somali Civil Aviation Authority accused of delivering miraa from Kenya despite an existing ban. .
But Kenya rejected the decision, arguing the operator flew to Somalia after Mogadishu reopened diplomatic ties it cut in December, and only clarified that the ban was still in effect for days. later when the planes landed in Somalia.
The ruling means all charter and scheduled flights to Somalia are suspended. However, flights from Somalia, passing through Kenyan airspace to other destinations, are exempt.
The move hampered the latest efforts to revive relations between the two countries. Qatar’s special envoy, Mutlaq bin Majed al-Qahtani, helped revive relations earlier this month.
Nairobi’s decision on Thursday could likely irritate Somalia further, even if the flights are scheduled to avoid Somali airspace. Kenya has tried to forge ties with Somaliland, which considers itself independent from Somalia but is not recognized around the world by a sovereign state.
In December, President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the leader of Somaliland, Muse Bihi Abdi, where they declared their unwavering commitment to deepen cordial bilateral relations.
“During their discussions, the leaders focused their attention on expanding bilateral trade, strengthening collaboration in air transport, including allowing direct flights between Nairobi and Hargeisa, as well as cooperation in the areas of air transport. agriculture, livestock development, education, energy and cooperation between the ports of Mombasa. and Berbera, ”a dispatch said on December 15, 2020.
Somalia would cut ties with Kenya on the same day, although Bihi also visited Ethiopia and Djibouti without stirring Somalia.