Somalia President Visits Kenya Amid Recent Tensions 

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is on a state visit to Kenya to strengthen relations after recent tensions over trade and a maritime border.

Relations between Kenya and Somalia have deteriorated in recent years. In December 2020, Mogadishu cut off diplomatic ties and accused Nairobi of meddling in its internal affairs after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted the political leadership from Somaliland, a breakaway state that Somalia’s central government does not recognize.

Sheikh Mohamud’s visit to Kenya is the first since the eruption of the maritime dispute, which involves a contested border. The International Court of Justice ruled that the border should be adjusted so that Somalia gets rights to most of an oil-rich part of the Indian Ocean. Kenya rejected the ruling.

Nairobi and Mogadishu agreed in October 2021 that an amicable resolution of the maritime border dispute should be reached soon.

Another point of friction involves khat, a cultivated stimulant commonly known as miraa in Kenya. Somalia is Kenya’s biggest market for khat, but it stopped importation of the crop when international flights were suspended because of fear of the spread of COVID-19.

Mogadishu has lifted the ban, but under conditions that are keeping Kenyan khat traders out of business.

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