Somalia has denied knowledge of any change of diplomatic protocol regarding travel by diplomatic passport holders to Kenya amid refusal by Nairobi to allow Somali officials entry.
Immigration Director-General Mohamed Aden Koofi told Goobjoog News his office was not aware of any changes and that there has never been communication from Kenya on any changes.
“This decision is their own (Kenya’s). We have never received any information regarding such changes,” Koofi said.
Immigration authorities at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) quoted by Kenyan media said there had been changes which required diplomatic passport holders from Somalia to acquire visas from the Kenyan embassy in Mogadishu.
“They know the rules and they have not changed,” a source quoted by The Standard on condition of anonymity said.
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Energy deputy minister Osman Liban and Senators Ilyas Ali and Zamzam Dahir were turned away at JKIA Monday despite holding diplomatic passports. The three were asked to return to Mogadishu and apply for visas.
They were attending a conference in Nairobi alongside Planning Minister Gamal Hassan, his health counterpart Fawziya Abikar and National Security Advisor Abdi Said who were cleared after producing non Somali passports.
Diplomatic passport holders are traditionally exempted from visa requirements based on bilateral arrangements between countries.
The visa issue is the latest in what is becoming an onslaught from Nairobi following failure by the two countries to agree on an out of court settlement in the maritime dispute currently in the International Court of Justice.
Somalia has turned down any discussions on the matter noting the only way out was to wait for the ICJ ruling expected as from end of 2019. Talks between President Mohamed Farmaajo and his Kenyan counterpart in March ended in no deal.
On May 9, Kenya announced suspension of direct flights from Mogadishu re-routing flights to Wajir Airport for security checks barely two years after the two countries agreed to end the decade long ban.
According to the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, the cancellation was ‘purely a security measure’. The aviation regulator said the suspension will last until August 2019.
Kenya recalled its ambassador to Somalia in March and sent back the Somali ambassador following the London Oil conference in February which Nairobi accused Mogadishu of auctioning oil blocks on contested territory in the Indian Ocean. Somalia however denied the claims.
Both countries announced April they had agreed to resolve the row and allow return of the ambassadors,
But Somalia termed it a political move saying it was not notified of planned changes or reasons.