Kenya denies meddling in Somalia's affairs as UNSC calls for dialogue
NAIROBI, Somalia - Kenya on Tuesday denied meddling in Somalia's domestic affairs, as 978th Session of the African Union Peace and Security Council [AUPSC] convened to consider the situation in Somalia and the activities of the African Union Mission to Somalia [AMISOM].
Kenya and Somalia have been at loggerheads over alleged interference in the Gedo region, something which triggered a diplomatic spat, leading to the cutting of diplomatic ties between the two nations, whose relationship has been fluid in as many months.
Kenya's Foreign Affairs department rejected claims of interference in the domestic affairs of Somalia as "false and misleading".
Kenya's troop presence in Somalia "was not only motivated by the need to strengthen regional peace and security architecture but was sanctioned by both the AU Peace and Security Council and by the UN Security Council," said the statement.
Nairobi also lauded the ongoing electioneering period in Somalia, which was a vital step in the long-term stability of Somalia and, by extension, the region, and pledged to continue playing its "rightful" role in Somalia alongside its Troop Contributing Countries’ partners.
"Kenya also appealed to the Council to guard against attempts at driving fissures among the various stakeholders, friends, and partners of Somalia and of the region. Attempts at lessening the positive impact of AMISOM or withdrawal of AMISOM from Somalia was viewed in this light".
Kenya’s Ambassador to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia and the country’s Permanent Representative to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Jean Kamau represented Kenya at the Council.
Elsewhere, the UN Security Council asked Somalia's leaders on Tuesday to quickly resume dialogue to arrange new elections, hoping to resolve a new crisis in the violence-ravaged nation.
In a statement approved unanimously, the 15-nation Security Council asked Somalis to "resume their dialogue urgently and work together, in the interests of the people of Somalia."
The statement encouraged leaders to "reach consensus on the arrangements for the conduct of inclusive elections with a view to holding them as soon as possible."
Britain called the closed-door meeting a day after Somalia's central government and federal states missed a deadline on how to proceed with a vote on choosing the next president.
Due to the impasse, the opposition said it no longer recognized the authority of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, compounding trouble in a nation facing a violent Islamist insurgency, a locust invasion, and serious food shortages.
The Security Council also condemned renewed violence by the Shebab jihadist group and reaffirmed support for the territorial integrity of Somalia -- where Somaliland declared independence during the 1991 civil war.
The Security Council will meet again on February 22 to renew the mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo whose term has expired called for dialogue in Garowe, but Puntland said the meeting should take place in Mogadishu.