Kenya to reopen 3 Somalia border posts following Shabaab attacks – a bewildering decision amidst the unpredictable and volatile situation.
In an unprecedented move, plans are reportedly underway to reopen three border points that have been closed for over a decade due to the threat of terrorism. This shocking news has sent shockwaves through the international community and has prompted urgent talks between Kenya and Somalia. The first meeting is due to take place today in Nairobi and is expected to be a tense and fraught affair.
The border points in question are Mandera/Belet Hawo, Liboi-Harhar/Dhobley, and Kiunga/Ras Kamboni. These crucial ports of entry were closed by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration back in 2011, at the height of devastating al Shabaab attacks, and have remained off-limits ever since. However, with tensions between the two countries seemingly easing, there is a growing push to reopen the borders and resume trade and the free movement of people.
Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki is set to lead the talks between Kenya and Somalia, and he has emphasized the importance of finding a common ground that works for both nations. Speaking on the phone ahead of today’s meeting with Somalia, CS Kindiki said, “We will be having important engagements on Monday morning with the Somalia delegation with the view of re-opening the three border points between the two countries.”
The negotiations are expected to be complex and will require a lot of delicate diplomacy, but there is hope that a resolution can be reached. The key aim is to ensure the safe and efficient resumption of trade between Kenya and Somalia, as well as facilitating the movement of people. Both countries have a lot to gain from this partnership, but it remains to be seen whether they can overcome the security concerns that initially led to the border closures.
The issue has been in the works for some time, but it was only last year that retired President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced a series of steps to address security concerns along the shared border. These steps included the reopening of the three border points and the strengthening of cross-border cooperation.
Today’s ministerial meeting is a follow-up to that initial announcement and will bring together six ministers from the two countries. In addition to the Internal Security bosses, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale and Foreign Affairs CS Alfred Mutua, alongside their counterparts from Somalia, will be part of the meeting.
The stakes are high for everyone involved, and the talks could reshape the geopolitical landscape in the region. The closure of the official entry points has led to the proliferation of illicit activities, including the flow of people, arms, and contraband goods through the borders. As such, the need for renewed partnerships and collaboration between Kenya and Somalia has never been greater.
Despite the complexities involved, both countries appear committed to finding a solution that works for everyone. Speaking at the launch of the Kenya-Somalia-Ethiopia Borderlands Security project, CS Kindiki emphasized the need for a joint effort, saying, “We all must walk together, hand in hand, shoulder to shoulder to deliver for our people in the region.”
Only time will tell whether the border points will be reopened and what impact this will have on the region as a whole. But for now, the world waits with bated breath to see how these complex negotiations will develop.