President Ruto: At the moment, maritime dispute with Somalia not a priority

for Tv47 Digital September 25, 2022, 01:00 PM
Kenya Somalia diplomatic ties
President William Ruto and his Somalia counterpart Hassan Sheikh when they held talks at State House Nairobi in September 2022.

President William Ruto has already held two meetings with his Somalia counterpart Hassan Sheikh.

Ruto describes President Sheikh - who took over as Somali leader in May this year - as a progressive and positive person who is committed to fighting terrorism and stabilise the country.

Ruto says that it is in Kenya's interest to support "President Sheikh in building a stable government" that will actualise the dream of a Somali devoid of conflicts.

"I have had two meetings already with President Hassan Sheikh. He is a much more progressive and positive person, and he is committed to fighting terrorism. He has our full support in that. It is in our best economic, and security interest to make sure Somali works. President Hassan gives us the best chance," President Ruto said in an interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday, September 24.

Kenya-Somali maritime dispute

According to President Ruto, the Kenya-Somali Maritime Dispute is not an issue between the neighbouring countries at the moment.

"What is our priority to Kenya now is not about the Maritime dispute, it is stabilising Somalia. Making sure that Somalia has a functioning that we can pull out our soldiers, manage our own country and then we can do what neighbours always do...We can engage and find solutions to the challenges that face us as neighbours," Ruto added.

"Conflict in Somalia is a Kenyan conflict, challenges we have in Eastern DRC are our challenges by and large. 50% of DRC's imports and exports go through our Mombasa port. These are responsibilities we cannot run away from. Peace in Somalia equals peace in Kenya."

During a closed door meeting at State House Nairobi this month, the Ruto and Sheikh discussed in length the implementation of the Joint Commission for cooperation between the two countries, as mooted by former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The cooperation will see the resumption of Miraa trade between the two countries, which had been affected courtesy of diplomatic tiff between Kenya and Somalia during former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

The cooperation will also aspire to ease movement between the two countries along the porous border, which Kenya had closed temporarily as a measure to regulate movement of Al Shabaab militants.

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