Kenya deports Somali businessman

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Following its decision yesterday to bar Somali warlords and their associates from entering the country, Kenya today deported a Somali businessman, citing his links to leaders engaged in the ongoing civil conflict in Somalia.

Abdirashid Hussein Shire was arrested by police at a hotel in the Kenyan capital Nairobi and escorted to a flight out of the country, reportedly heading for Dubai. Shire is alleged to be a supporter of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism, an alliance of Somali warlords who are currently engaged in a conflict with the Islamic Courts Union for control over Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Yesterday, the Kenyan government barred Somali warlords or their associates from entering the country. The Kenyan foreign affairs assistant minister Moses Wetang'ula declared them "persona non-grata".

"The government would like to reiterate its previously stated position that it will not permit its territory to be used by those who persist in destabilising Somalia and undermining our ongoing efforts to restore peace and security in that country," said the Kenyan foreign ministry in a statement released Tuesday.

Kenya has been closely involved in efforts to normalise the situation in Somalia. Kenya hosted and mediated talks between the various Somali factions for more than two years, leading to the formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in 2004. The Somali Cabinet was named in August 2004 at the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi.

The Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is also the current chairman of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a seven-member regional development organization in Eastern Africa. The IGAD passed a resolution in March in support of the transitional government, expressing concern over the upsurge of violence in Somalia and calling for a cessation of hostilities. The resolution also called for the lifting of a UN arms embargo to "enable IGAD and the AU deploy the Peace Support Mission to Somalia"[1].

Many Somali leaders have homes or business interests in Kenya, whose capital Nairobi forms a regional business hub.