By Hillary Mageka, Mercy Mwai and Anthony Mwangi
The secret visit to Somalia by 11 Kenyan MPs took a new twist with three of them and other Mandera leaders accusing the Kenya government of interfering in the internal affairs of its neighbouring state.
The leaders claimed the government was harbouring and protecting a fugitive minister Hassan Abdinur alias Abdirashid Janan, who escaped from prison and is wanted for trial in Somalia.
Addressing the press at Parliament Buildings in Nairobi on Monday, the deﬁant MPs, who are members of Somali President Mohamed Abdullah Farmajo’s Marehan clan, asked the government to hand over Janan for trial.
The stand of the defiant legislators is likely to escalate the already troubled relationship between the two countries, especially over the maritime dispute case at the International Court of Justice and the fallout over the elections in Jubaland.
Take action Led by Mandera Senator Mahamud Maalim, the MPs who, included Hassan Omar (Mandera East), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Hassan Kulow (Banisa), Adan Haji (Mandera South), Maj (rtd) Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), told President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and take action against those responsible for the war in the region.
“You know very well that the security minister of Jubaland was being accommodated by the government through the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF). He has been operating here and leading his forces from Mandera and that is why this morning war broke out at 11.30 am, ”said Maalim.
He added: “We demand that this government takes care of our people, in our borders, we also demanded that the fugitives bordering 100 be taken back to their country so that they can take their business there, we do not want to be involved in this war anymore. We have been hosting fugitives and we want them taken back to their country.”
The statement comes as soldiers from the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) on Monday engaged troops from Jubaland in a day-long ﬁerce battle at the Kenyan border before it spilled over to Mandera town.
FGS troops have been camping at Bulahwa, a town neighbouring Mandera, for the past month, planning a raid to capture a fugitive Jubaland minister, who has been hiding in the county.
The soldiers engaged in a heavy gun ﬁre exchange with the Jubaland soldiers guarding the fugitive for the better part of the day.
Later, overpowered Jubaland forces sought refuge at the Mandera Police Station which KDF had taken over.
Janan, who escaped from a Mogadishu Prison on January 28 where he had been held since August 31 last year, is said to have arrived in Mandera town on January 30 and was booked into a local hotel.
As controversy continues to bubble over the legislators secret visit to Somalia where they are said to have met President Faramajo and the country’s intelligence chiefs, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi will today make a ruling on whether to a summon them for travelling out the country without requisite clearance.
And if he rules that they be summoned, the MPs will appear before Powers and Privileges Committee.
MPs are required to inform the Speaker of their foreign travels in writing.
“We are discussing to see how to deal with this matter before I make a ruling today,” Muturi told journalists yesterday.
But the legislators who addressed a press conference defended their colleagues who visited Somalia, insisting that they do not require any permission to make a tour to a foreign country for a day.
“The claim that our colleagues visited Somalia without permission is baseless. We cannot accept this anymore. We have to be treated like other Kenyans. Kenya through KDF, has been supporting a fugitive which cannot be allowed to continue. We want the President take action, ” said Omar.
Somali government ofﬁcial who spoke to the People Daily claimed KDF under Amisom is currently “bombing Somali forces with heavy artillery and mortars”.
Sources, who spoke to People Daily in conﬁdence, have connected the spill over of Somali-Jubaland ﬁghts to Kenya to the visit conducted by the Kenyan legislators, who now would face a parliamentary probe for leaving the country without ofﬁcial clearance.
The MPs include six from Mandera, three from Wajir and two from Garissa. They are Kullow Maalim (Banisa), Ahmed Kolosh (Wajir West), Ibrahim Abdi (Lafey), Rashid Kassim (Wajir East), Mohamed Hire (Lagdera), Omar Maalim (Mandera East), Bashir Abdullahi (Mandera North), Adan Haji (Mandera West), Dr Hassan Dahiye (Daadab), Ahmed Bashane (Tarbaj) and Aden Keynan (Eldas).
Initial reports indicated that the MPs chartered a Freedom Airline flight to Mogadishu on Saturday, upon their arrival, they had dinner with President Farmaajo.
Later, they had a meeting with the Somali National Intelligence Agency (NISA).