A Kenyan governor has controversially claimed preferential trade deals with Somaliland on the leafy stimulant khat would earn the break way region recognition by Kenya.
Peter Munya the governor of khat exporting county, Meru said in a Facebook post this week he held talks with the government of Somaliland which agreed to form a technical committee to review tariffs imposed on khat from Kenya.
“In my deliberations with top government officials, I managed to convince the government to appoint a technical committee to review the duty in exchange of some form of recognition of the Republic of Somaliland by the Kenyan Government,” said Munya.
But Somalia’s Planning and International Cooperation Minister, Abdi Aynte has rubbished the remarks terming them troubling. Aynte said whereas Kenya was welcome to trade with Somalia, debate on the country’s territorial integrity was not negotiable.
“Troubling statement by Kenya county Governor. Trade is welcome but territorial integrity of Somalia is inviolable,” said Aynte. The minister also called for punitive tariffs on khat to discourage more imports. “We should embark on a gradual process to disincentivise it (khat imports) with robust tax and regulatory regime,” added Aynte.
The Kenyan governor had argued Somaliland was imposing hefty taxes on khat from Kenya at about 300% while it taxed the same leaf from Ethiopia a 100% import tax.
In what seemed a sustained public relations campaign by the governor, a former deputy information minister in Kenya, who accompanied Munya during the trip to Somaliland today published an article in the country’s third largest newspaper, The Star calling for recognition of Somaliland by Kenya should it open up more to Kenyan businessmen.
In the piece titled, More trade with Kenya would win Somali land recognition, Koigi wa Wamwere a one time political detainee said Somaliland should level the playing field for trade to gain recognition from Kenya.
“Even as we demand full recognition of Somaliland by Kenya, Ethiopia and international community, we also plead with Somaliland to treat all its commercial partners with equality, not preferring one to the other,” said wa Mwere.
The UK banned import of khat in 2014 classifying the leafy stimulant as class C drug. This left Kenya with Somalia as the remaining major market for drug. There have been however campaigns in Somalia to ban the leaf.