Kenya “regrets” the presence of a Somaliland flag in Nairobi

Mogadishu accuses Kenya of “violating its sovereignty”. At issue: the presence of a flag of the self-proclaimed state of Somaliland, during a diplomatic ceremony held Tuesday 14 June at the Kenyan presidency. Nairobi says it “regrets” the incident, while the two presidents have recently pledged to improve relations between the two countries, which were stormy under former President Farmajo.
The incident that made people angry took place on Tuesday. The Somali ambassador to Kenya was invited to the presidency for a ceremony and noticed on his arrival the presence of a flag of Somaliland, a separatist region of Somalia. The diplomatic representative was angry and referred the matter to Mogadishu, slamming the door on the event, accusing Kenya of having “violated its sovereignty”.
Hours after the Somali ambassador to Kenya walked out of a diplomatic meeting in Nairobi because of the presence of a Somaliland envoy, the Kenyan foreign ministry regretted the “inappropriate presence” of a Somaliland flag, but made no mention of an envoy from the region, which declared independence in 1991.
“The ministry wishes to reaffirm its recognition of the sovereignty of a single federal government of Somalia and the integrity of the federal state of Somalia,” the Kenyan diplomatic statement added.
“Any inconvenience or embarrassment caused by this matter is deeply regretted,” the statement said.
The diplomatic misstep comes just days after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta visited Mogadishu for the inauguration of Somalia’s newly elected president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, marking an easing of relations between the two countries, which had been fractious under the previous president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo.
Somalia also agreed on Friday to lift a ban on airlifting khat from Kenya, which had been in place for over two years.
Mogadishu severed diplomatic relations with Kenya in December 2020, when Kenyatta hosted the president of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, which is not recognised by the international community and which Mogadishu considers an integral part of Somalia.
These diplomatic relations were re-established in August 2021. The Somali embassy in Nairobi said it was “unfortunate” that Kenya had “intentionally invited” a Somaliland representative to a diplomatic meeting and granted him “privileges equal to those of a sovereign state despite the protest of the Somali ambassador.