Tension is high in Beled Hawa town after residents started protests against the construction of a security wall along Kenya- Somalia border.
The government of Kenya had begun the construction of a 700Km long security wall along its North-eastern region border with Somalia to curb cross-border attacks by Al-shabab fighters.
Protesting locals have accused Kenyan government of allegedly encroaching into Somalia’s territory.
Ibrahim Abdi Kaskay, a local journalist who operates in the town said the demonstrations sparked following the collapse of the talks between the local leaders of Beled Hawa and Mandera over the allegation of encroachment.
“As Beled Hawa administration was waiting the outcome of the federal government’s assessment over the border, the local leaders of Beled hawa asked their counterpart in Mandera to temporarily halt the construction of the wall but the government of Kenya turned down the request, leading the local residents to protest against the resumption of the wall,” Kaskay said.
Beled Hawa district commissioner, Yussuf Mohamed who confirmed the demonstrations asked the locals to ease the tensions as plans to discuss with the Kenyan leader are underway.
“Still we are waiting the outcome of the assessment carried out by the delegates dispatched to this town. We are still trying to reach Kenya leaders for further talks about the issue. There are international laws that clarify the borders of the countries, no country can one step of another country. Therefore I urged people of Beled Hawa town to leave the matter their administration and the government of Somalia,” Mohamed said.
Late last year, Somali government had dispatched delegation led by the then interior minister Abdi Farah Juha to assess the allegations against Kenya after people Beled Hawo protested.
Business affected as leaders issue three days ultimatum
Kaskay said the local administration of Beled Hawa closed the border from the town’s side.
“The movement of people was cordoned off after the Somali government soldiers were deployed at the town’s border with Mandera,” he said.
Bashow Alas Ismalure, a local resident in Mandera said closure of border had affected the transportation of goods to Mandera town which gets vast of its goods from Beled Hawa.
“Food prices are expected to rise in the next few days. One bag of Cement is now Ksh 600 in Beled-Hawa but in Mandera, it shot up to Ksh 1050. Mandera residents normally get almost all the trade commodities from Beled-Hawa,” Ismalure said.
The traders from Mandera have been given three days ultimatum to cross their goods into Mandera
“Business deals between Beled-Hawa and Mandera have been suspended by Authority from Somalia. Mandera residents were given three days to get all their goods and commodities from Beled-Hawa,” he said.
Somalia filed its maritime case against Kenya in mid July 2015 at The Hague, the Netherlands arguing that Kenya had encroached on its territory in the Indian Ocean border and went ahead to license oil companies for oil exploration.