Somalia bans Kenyan aircraft transporting election materials

A move that raises doubts about the recent restoration of diplomatic ties between Kenya and Somalia.


Somalia bans Kenyan aircraft transporting election materials to Somaliland

The Somalia Civil Aviation Authority [SCAA] has banned an aircraft transporting election materials to Somaliland, in yet another move that raises doubts about the recent restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

According to reports, the Astral Aviation aircraft, which had been deployed to transport elections materials to Somaliland, will no longer be cleared by SCAA to operate within Somalia’s skies, in what is attributed to the recent move by Kenya to ban aircraft operating from Somalia.

However, despite the ban, Astral Aviation is yet to get an explanation from the Somalia Civil Aviation Authority [SCAA] over the latest ban. The aircraft is registered in Kenya and is assumed to be owned by Kenyan operators.

Astral Aviation was cleared by Kenya on May 13 for a period of 72 hours to transport election materials for the Somaliland elections which will take place on May 31, 2021. The preparations for the polls are in the final stages according to authorities in Hargeisa.

The aviation company was to fly two aircraft- 5Y-UAE and 5Y-MWM during the 72 hour period. Kenya had denied claims that it had completed clearance of aircraft that are to operate between Nairobi and Hargeisa after fallout with Mogadishu.

Though Astral Aviation was on a chartered flight basis to Somaliland during the assignment, the SCAA decision could affect its future operations in Somalia owing to the loss of landing rights.

Kenya banned flights to and from Somalia last week but did not give any reasons for the move. According to a Notice to Airman [NOTAM], the suspension runs until August this year. The suspension is closely related to Somalia’s failure to lift Miraa ban.

Nairobi is reportedly angered by the decision, arguing that the move would further affect the business plans involving Miraa traders from both countries. Kenya is one of the biggest exporters of Miraa to Somalia, which banned the product last year.

There are claims that Mogadishu is interested in importing Ethiopian Khat, which is believed to be part of the deal signed between Mogadishu and Addis Ababa. A brother to the outgoing Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is said to be behind the Ethiopian deal.

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