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Kenya Apologies To Somalia Over Presence Of Somaliland Flag At Briefing

The Kenyan Government has expressed regret over the presence of the flag of Somaliland at a diplomatic function.

According to Somalia’s embassy, Mohamoud Ahmed Nur, Somalia's ambassador to Kenya, walked out of the ceremony in Nairobi on Tuesday in protest of the presence of the Somaliland envoy.

The Somali embassy claimed it was "unfortunate" that Kenya had "deliberately invited" a representative from Somaliland to Kenyatta's annual briefing to the diplomatic corps and had given him "equivalent privileges as a sovereign state despite the Somali ambassador's opposition."

As a result, Somalia accused Kenya of violating its sovereignty by having a Somaliland flag and official at the function.

Hours later, Kenya's foreign ministry issued a statement regretting the "inadvertent and improper presence" of the Somaliland flag at the ceremony, but it made no mention of a Somaliland official.

"The ministry further wishes to reaffirm its recognition of the sovereignty of one Federal Somali Government and the integrity of the Federal Somali State," it said late Tuesday.

"Any inconvenience or embarrassment caused is deeply regretted."

The controversy erupts just days after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the inauguration of Somalia's newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, signaling a thaw in the frequently tense relationship.

As part of a larger economic agreement being established between the East African neighbors, Somalia agreed to allow imports of the narcotic herb khat from Kenya after a two-year ban

Mogadishu and Nairobi cut diplomatic connections in December 2020 when Nairobi hosted Somaliland's political leadership, but they agreed to reestablish ties in August of last year.

Somaliland is an independent entity in northern Somalia that broke away from Somalia in 1991 and declared independence.

The international community has not recognized Somaliland's claim of independence, leaving the Horn of Africa's four million people poor and isolated.

While Somalia has been ravaged by decades of civil conflict, political bloodshed, and an Islamist insurgency, Somaliland has remained relatively stable.

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