Somalia ‘lifts’ Kenya’s khat ban as relations with the two countries improve

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Somalia has agreed to lift a two-year ban on air shipments of khat from Kenya as part of a new trade deal, a Kenyan minister announced Friday, a further sign of rekindled ties after several years of tensions.

The move comes after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta attended the inauguration of Somalia’s newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Thursday, signalling a shift away from the frosty relations under the previous government in Mogadishu.

Ties have been dogged by a long-running maritime border dispute as well as Somali accusations of Kenyan meddling in its affairs, while Nairobi has accused Mogadishu of using it as a scapegoat for its own political and security problems.

Kenyan Agriculture Minister Peter Munya announced that Nairobi would resume exports of khat or miraa, a mildly narcotic leaf popular in Somalia, while its Indian Ocean neighbour was looking to sell fish and other products to Kenya.

He said the agreements would be signed within two weeks.

The ban imposed in March 2020 led to a loss of more than 50 tonnes of Kenyan khat a day valued at around six million shillings ($50,000), according to Kimathi Munjuri, chairman of the Nyambene Miraa Traders Association in central Kenya.