The already strained diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia are once again being tested, with Nairobi accused of harbouring fugitive Jubbaland security minister Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur.
Mr Abdinur, also known as Abdirashid Janan, is alleged to have escaped on January 28 from a Mogadishu prison, where he had been held since August 31, 2019 on accusations of “grave human rights violations and killing civilians in Gedo Region”.
A well-placed security source in Mandera said the minister entered Kenya through Bulahawa, narrowly escaping Somalia security forces that had been chasing him.
The fugitive minister has been in Kenya since then, initially taking refuge in Nairobi.
Currently, Mr Abdinur is reported to be hiding in a Mandera hotel. He arrived at the hotel on Tuesday afternoon and his security was immediately taken over by Kenyan agencies.
As a result of these reports, Somalia is furious for what it considers interference by Nairobi with its internal affairs.
In a statement, the government of Somalia warned that harbouring the wanted minister by any neighbouring country could jeopardise “good relations”.
“The Federal Republic of Somalia places great importance on maintaining good relations with its neighbouring countries and the harbouring of a dangerous fugitive could seriously endanger the good relations that have existed between Kenya and Somalia,” read the statement.
The Somali Police Force says it is hopeful that Kenya will adhere to calls from the Somali government as well as international human rights agencies and arrest and extradite Mr Abdinur.
Somalia has gone further to enlist the help of Interpol in apprehending Mr Abdinur.
He is wanted for several serious crimes, including international human rights violation, massacre of innocent civilians and illegally escaping government custody.
International human rights opinion also seems to favour Somalia after Amnesty International called on Kenya to arrest and handover the fugitive, saying he “must be returned to face justice”.
“The Kenyan authorities must immediately arrest and hand him over to the Federal Government of Somalia, who should conduct his trial in a manner that meets international fair trial standards, without any further delays,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
By Daily Nation