The national government and the county government of Meru have in the recent past traded accusations over the short-lived ban on miraa exports to the Federal Republic of Somalia.
In the period preceding the ban of miraa flights to Somalia, the government of Somalia had issued a communication to the effect that all flights in and out of Somalia would be temporarily stopped. It was a security measure due to the high-level 28th Igad Extraordinary Summit of Heads of States and Government on September 13 in Mogadishu.

During this time, miraa cargo planes were also affected. Consequently, miraa farmers and traders recorded huge losses as tonnes of the green gold went to waste.Somalia is the largest remaining market. This elicited complaints across the miraa-growing strongholds of Meru and among thousands of other people employed in the sector.

Then, the Somali Embassy in Kenya issued a statement saying Kenyan miraa had been banned for alleged meddling in Somalia’s internal affairs and sovereignty by Meru Governor Peter Munya.

The statement by Somali Ambassador to Kenya Gamal Hassan said Munya had, during his visit the breakaway Somaliland, issued a statement that appeared “to interfere with the territorial integrity of Somalia” ­— prompting the ban.

In a quick rejoinder, Munya said the temporary ban was because of the Igad meeting and it would be lifted immediately the meeting ended.

It is reported President Uhuru Kenyatta talked to Somalia President Sheikh Mohamud for the ban to be lifted. A keen follower of the alleged diplomatic row cannot fail to notice glaring grey areas in the sovereignty-interference nexus advanced by the state.

First if the ban was linked to the alleged recognition of breakaway Somaliland, then Somalia should have banned our miraa in May 2014 when the then Foreign Affairs PS Karanja Kibicho announced plans to open a consulate in Hargeisa, capital of the breakaway region.This pointed to a clear foreign policy approach that appeared to point to some form of recognition of the autonomy of Somaliland by the Kenyan government.

Second, Ethiopia has been trading with Somaliland and Somalia has never complained of Ethiopia’s interference with its sovereignty. One also reads mischief on Ambassadors Hassan’s part because his statement seemed to contradict the communication issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of Somalia which announced a ban of all flights, including miraa cargo flights, during the IGAD meet.

Munya had publicly said the miraa cargo flights would resume after the summit. That is what happened. Who is not telling the truth?

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The writer is a Star correspondent

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