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No, Kenyans haven’t been expelled from Somalia after diplomatic row

This article is more than 5 years old

Kenya and Somalia are in the middle of a diplomatic spat. But has Somalia really expelled all Kenyan nationals from the country?

On 16 February 2019, Kenya’s foreign office tweeted that it had recalled its ambassador to Somalia due to the Somali government’s “most regretful and egregious decision” to “auction off oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territorial area”.

It also asked Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya to return home for consultations with his government.

‘Kenyan citizens are persona non grata’

A screenshot of the contested letter.

A day later the Kenya-based Jubilee Party Forum Facebook page, which has about 450,000 followers, posted a “press release” on the letterhead of Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry. It declared: “All citizens of Kenya are persona non grata in the Federal Republic of Somalia moving forward.” 

It said that “in response to the provocative Kenyan expulsion of our ambassador... all Kenyan diplomats are hereby expelled from Somalia” and “we hereby nullify all visas issued to Kenyans retroactively”.

“Our immigration and security apparatus have been ordered to enforce these measures with immediate effect.”

The letter said Kenya’s military, in Somalia as part of a stabilisation force, must leave within in 168 hours. It claimed Somalia was “ready to defend its territorial integrity” at the African Union and the United Nations.

By 20 February the post had over 100 reactions and 300 comments, and some 30 shares. It was also posted on another Facebook page and on Twitter.

Somali government declares letter a fake

A Twitter user asked Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed, communications director in the Somali presidency, if the statement was real. His response was brief: “FAKE LETTER”.

He later shared what he said was the real letter Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry had sent to Kenya’s government.

No mainstream media in Kenya or Somalia carried any story on the expulsion of Kenyans.

A reverse image search shows the image of the letter was first published by Somali website Qaran News on 17 February and picked up by blogs and social media in Kenya. – Dancan Bwire (20/02/19)

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