The diplomatic row between Kenya and Somalia took a nosedive on Monday night after three top officials from the war-ravaged nation were denied entry at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Reports emerging from a popular Somalia Radio station, Dalsan FM, disclosed that Somalia’s deputy minister of Water and Energy, Osman Libah, as well as Senators Ilyas Ali Hassan and Zamzam Dahir, were stranded at JKIA.
Dalsan FM posted photos of a program which showed the names of the three officials as part of esteemed guests expected at the United Nations (UN) offices in Gigiri, Nairobi.
The three were restricted from gaining entry into the country despite being in possession of diplomatic passports, which under bilateral arrangements guaranteed holder entry visas at the ports of entry.
However, reports by Somalia media claimed that the three diplomats were asked to head back to the Kenyan Embassy in Mogadishu, and have their entry visas processed from their end.
“Kenyan authorities at the airport informed these guys that previous protocols had changed, and now everyone had to obtain a visa from Kenya’s Mission in Mogadishu,” a senior Somali official in the delegation, but who travelled on a foreign passport, divulged to the Nation.
The latest tiff comes barely a week since the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) decreed that there would be no more direct flights from Mogadishu to Nairobi, with planes directed to stop in Wajir first for a mandatory security check.
Kenya and Somalia have been in the middle of a stretched out diplomatic row over controversial oil and gas blocks–located in a contested maritime border.
Somalia went on to reveal that it had received no prior communication regarding the new protocol regarding the processing of visas.
The high ranking Somali diplomats formed part of a government delegation scheduled to kick off a European sponsored cross-border conflict management programme on Tuesday.