Kenya will open a consulate in Somaliland by early next year and commence direct flights, a new agreement by presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Muse Bihi indicates.
Following a two days meeting in Nairobi which concluded Tuesday, the two sides announced a wide arrange of areas of cooperation which they said aimed to boost relations between Hargeisa and Nairobi.
The opening of the consulate which by diplomatic practice is acknowledgment of a form of status for a territory comes amid a barrage of complaints against Kenya by Somalia which culminated into the severance of ties on Monday.
According to the communique, the Kenyan consulate will open in March while Somaliland will also upgrade its liaison office in Nairobi to a consulate during the same time frame. Kenya Airways will also commence direct fights to Hargeisa by March, the communique.
And in what would mirror relations between Somaliland and Ethiopia, Somaliland diplomatic passport holders will now get visas to Kenya via an e-application platform. Ideally, Somaliland passport holders have to acquire passports issued by the Federal Government in Mogadishu for international travel.
The two leaders also directed their respective senior leader to ‘work together to develop a general cooperation framework agreement’ to deepen relations, promote and diversify trade, agriculture, tourism and capacity building.
Somalia has since dismissed Bihi’s visit to Kenya and went ahead to end diplomatic ties with Kenya following a 2am announcement on Monday by the Minister of Information Osman Dube. But in its response Tuesday, Kenya said it had appointed a committee to ‘restore relations’ with Somalia.