Kenya Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday declined to vet the Somaliland ambassador nominee during the ongoing vetting process, stating that the government recognizes Somaliland as a region in Somalia.

President William Ruto nominated Abdi Weli Muhamad Hussein as the ambassador for Hargeisa during the government reshuffle in early October.

Hargeisa is the capital city of the self-declared republic of Somaliland, a de facto sovereign state.

Foreign Affairs Committee Rejects Ruto's Somaliland Ambassador Nominee
President William Ruto and his Somalia counterpart Hassan Mohamud in Washington, D.C. in the United States of America on December 15, 2022.

However, according to Committee Chairperson Nelson Koech, Kenya already has a liaison office in Somaliland.

“It is within the mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit the names of ambassadors designated to various embassies and missions abroad to send to Parliament the names the Foreign Affairs Committee will vet,” he remarked.

“Hargeisa, to my understanding is that it is a liaison office and will not require this committee to vet such a person. We will only vet ambassadors of embassies and high commissions that are recognized.”

Foreign Affairs Committee Rejects Ruto's Somaliland Ambassador Nominee
President William Ruto during the US- Africa Investment Forum in New York.

Koech added that the reasons for declining to vet the nominee were included in a letter sent by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Somalia’s embassy.

“The Ministry has the honor to inform that the status of Abdi Weli Muhamad Hussein is that of Consul General. Kenya only acknowledges Somaliland as a regional government within the Federal Republic of Somalia,” the letter read in part.

During the vetting process, three of the four ambassador nominees were vetted on Thursday. These included Dr. Wilson Kogo (Canberra, Australia), John Ronald Ekitela (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and Phillip Mundia Githiora (Maputo, Mozambique).

Somaliland has been seeking to forge strong ties with neighboring countries, including Kenya, which created a liaison office in September 2021 and deployed four officers.

Foreign Affairs Committee Rejects Ruto's Somaliland Ambassador Nominee
Former president Uhuru Kenyatta (right) meets Somaliland president Muse Bihi at State House in December 2020.

In contrast, Somalia, an opponent of Somaliland’s quest to be recognized as an independent state, has in the past accused Kenya of meddling in its affairs. This is after Somaliland President Muse Bihi held talks with former President Uhuru Kenyatta in December 2020.

Following the visit, Somalia ordered all its diplomats in Kenya to leave within seven days, while also ordering all Kenyan diplomats to quit during the same period.

“Kenya continues meddling in our internal political affairs, and it has ignored our previous calls to stop violating our sovereignty. We, therefore, declare that we have cut ties with Kenya over its poor violations of Somalia’s sovereignty,” Somalia’s Information Minister Osman Dubbe stated during a televised broadcast in December 2020.

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