17-05-2023 by redazione
Kenya and Somalia announced on Monday an agreement to reopen their land border at three different customs posts on 1 July.
The border between the two countries has been officially closed since 2011 due to an insurgency by radical Islamists Al Shabaab.
The announcement came after a meeting in Nairobi between delegations of ministers from the two countries on issues of cooperation in security, trade and movement of people.
"We are considering reopening the border and have decided that the Somalia-Kenya border will be reopened in a phased manner over the next 90 days," Kenyan Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki told a joint press conference.
The Mandera-Bulahawa border post 'will be opened within the next 30 days,' Kindiki said.
This will be followed by the Liboi-Harhar customs post ('within 60 days from today') and the Kiunga-Ras Kamboni maritime customs post at the beginning of July.
In addition to these three points in the Kenyan counties of Mandera, Wajir and Lamu, the two governments are also considering adding a fourth border post in Wajir County, north-east Kenya.
Last year, the two countries announced their intention to reopen the border, but it never materialised.
The 700-kilometre-long border between Kenya and Somalia had been officially closed by Nairobi in October 2011 in an attempt to stem attacks by Islamic terrorists on Kenyan territory, and as a consequence of several kidnappings of foreign tourists and aid workers.
The Kenyan army intervened shortly afterwards in Somalia to fight Al Shabaab, and the Nairobi army joined the African Union Force in Somalia (formerly Amisom, now Atmis) in 2012, driving the terrorists out of many of their strongholds.
During this period, relations between Kenya and Somalia were not always rosy between the two countries. Mogadishu has repeatedly accused Kenya of interference, while Kenya has replied that it feels like a scapegoat for the internal problems of its 'neighbours'.
For eight months, from December 2020 to August 2021, Somalia broke off diplomatic relations with Nairobi.
The two countries have also been at loggerheads over the demarcation of their maritime border in the Indian Ocean.
Last October, the International Court of Justice, the main judicial organ of the United Nations, ruled in favour of Somalia, granting it a vast 100,000 square kilometre area rich in fish and potential hydrocarbons.
Kenya has officially appealed the decision.
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