CW 51/2020: A show of Diplomacy
Press Review 12 December 2020 to 18 December 2020

Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Kenya

On Monday, Somali Minister of Information, Osman Dube announced the severance of diplomatic relations with neighboring Kenya, stating that Kenyan diplomatic personnel are ordered to leave the country within one week. Part of the decision also includes that Somali state officials will be withdrawn from Kenya. Dube accused the Kenyan government of repeatedly interfering in Somalia’s internal affairs and impeding its unity. The interstate relationship between Kenya and Somalia had been deteriorating for some time. This includes the unresolved maritime border issue, which has been a key hurdle in their cooperation and has severely strained relations. Both states each claim a portion of a large chunk of the coastline, a region which is suspected to hold substantial amounts of oil and natural gas. On the other hand, Kenya maintains close relations with Somaliland, a region in northern Somalia that unilaterally declared self-independence in the course of the civil war in 1991. The visit of Somaliland’s president, Musa Bihi Abdi, to Nairobi is now seen as a concrete reason for the current termination of diplomatic relations. In this visit, Kenya’s head of state Uhuru Kenyatta received Abdi on Monday and announced, among other things, the establishment of a Kenyan consulate in Hargeisa. Kenya Airways is also to offer direct flights to Somaliland’s capital from March 2021. The move of Kenyan politician and AU Special Envoy for Infrastructure Raila Odinga called on the AU and UN to recognize Somaliland’s independence during Abdi’s visit is also seen as another affront in Mogadishu. Somalia reportedly deployed troops to its border with Kenya on Tuesday and filed an official complaint with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok has scheduled a meeting of IGAD heads of government for next Sunday to mediate the diplomatic dispute.

Sudan’s removal from U.S. terror list takes effect

After nearly three decades, Sudan has been removed from the United State’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move was announced by U.S. President Donald Trump back in October, and came into play on Monday. Additionally, on Wednesday, the U.S. forgave Sudan the $1 billion in debt the country owed the World Bank. The move marks an important step for the northeastern African country out of international economic isolation, enabling it to attract loans from international financial institutions for the first time in 27 years. Sudan’s transitional government welcomed the decision and expects American private investment of up to $1 billion in addition to access to $1.5 billion in financing from the International Development Association (IDA). Prerequisites for improving relations with the United States included normalization of relations with Israel, which Sudan agreed to in October, and compensation for past terrorist attacks. For example, Sudan agreed to pay $335 million for the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. However, given the country’s profound problems – in November, for example, the country was subject to hyperinflation of 254% – experts predict only a slow recovery of the economy. Focusing on other impacts of the country’s removal from the terror list, the recognition of the work of Sudan’s transitional government and the positive political development the country has taken since the long-term ruler Omar al-Bashir ousting are other positive outcomes.


In other news

Algeria and Morocco showcased a strong example of unity in culinary terms this week, as UNESCO officially awarded couscous the status of an intangible world cultural heritage. The two North African countries had already applied to UNESCO for inclusion in March 2019, along with Tunisia and Mauritania. The four Maghreb countries had presented the argument that couscous symbolises and embodies “living together.” The dish, they said, is present at every social or cultural event, making it both ordinary and special at the same time. The dish, made from semolina or durum wheat, is traditionally served with vegetables, meat or fish. Focusing on African continent, over the course of this year, in addition to couscous, Tunisian charfia fishing, the mbira/sansi instrument from Malawi and Zimbabwe, and the Budima dance from Zambia were also declared as intangible world cultural heritage practices by UNESCO.


+++ With this press review we say goodbye to the year 2020. We wish you happy holidays and a happy new year. As of 08 January 2021, we will again provide you with news from the African continent as usual. +++

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