International partners have expressed concern about the build-up of security forces in the Gedo region of Jubaland, southern Somalia.
The partners, including the African Union, the EU, and the UN, called for dialogue and restrain to help de-escalate tensions along the common border.
“We urgently call upon all actors to exercise restraint, to reduce the presence of security forces in Gedo, and to avoid any actions that could spark violence,” the partners said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu on Monday.
“We note the importance of stability and good cooperation among Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia in their common border area where they have shared security interests,” they added.
The statement comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta on March 5 warned Somalia to stop provoking Kenya by violating its territorial integrity, saying the Somali army had fought on Kenyan land, creating tension and harassing residents.
According to the UN humanitarian agency, five people were killed and other others injured while an estimated 56,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the clashes between military forces and militants near the Kenyan border.
The partners welcomed Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart, Mohamed Farmajo’s phone call on March 5 to resolve the escalating tensions between the two countries.
They encouraged the two leaders to continue to deescalate tensions, to cooperate on border security, and to form a joint committee to address issues of diplomacy and trade as they agreed.
“The partners regard the engagement between the leaders as a necessary step, and underscore the importance of continued direct communication between Somalia and Kenya,” they said.
For the long-term stability and security of the border region and of Jubaland, the partners urged cooperation and dialogue between the Somali government and Jubaland authorities in order to advance the fight against al-Shabaab.
“They call for any individuals accused of crimes or human rights violations to be arrested and subject to due process in accordance with the rule of law,” they said.
The partners said full cooperation and dialogue between Mogadishu and all Federal Member States’ authorities are urgent and essential in order to combat al-Shabab, resolve contentious issues, and achieve other national priorities such as securing the benefits from debt relief and holding timely national elections. Enditem