Regional leaders call on Kenya to handover control of strategic port city to Somalia
African leaders contributing troops to fight the Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia have called on Kenya to hand over the control of the city of Kismayo to the Somali government. The regional leaders made the decision after passing a resolution over the issue in the Ugandan capital Kampala. The resolution would end a month-long dispute between Somalia and neighboring Kenya. Relations between the two countries hit an all-time low after Kenyan troops invaded Somalia in October 2011.
Tensions have been simmering for months between Kenya and the central Somali government. Mogadishu has for long accused Nairobi of backing this man, Ahmed Madobe, a former warlord whose militia fought beside the Kenyans and who now controls the port city of Kismayo.
Analysts say that the Kampala agreement will boost the economy of the federal government through trade at the lucrative port of Kismayo.
But Kenya is against calls for its forces to cede control of the Kismayo port and airport to the Somali government. Analysts say that the agreement is not likely to work out unless Kenyan forces stop siding with the regional administration.
For months now, the federal government in Mogadishu has been at loggerheads with the newly formed Jubbaland administration based in the port city of Kismayo. It remains unclear whether the recently signed agreement in Uganda will provide any chance to change the existing relations between the central government in Mogadishu and the regional administration in Kismayo.
Regional leaders also stressed that in line with UN Security Council resolutions, all parties should adhere to a ban on the on the exportation of charcoal.
The UN monitoring group’s recent report on Somalia accused Kenyan forces of aiding charcoal export through Kismayo. Somalia says charcoal exports through the port city have been benefiting regional militias.