Somali miraa ban ‘lifted’ as Meru MPs seek Uhuru help

Meru MPs have petitioned President Uhuru Kenyatta to use IGAD platform to lobby the Somalia government to lift the ban on miraa flights to Mogadishu even as unconfirmed reports indicated the stalemate ended late yesterday.

Somalia imposed a ban on Kenya’s miraa flights a week ago purportedly because Meru Governor Peter Munya had “used the business to campaign for the breakup of the country.”

Kenya sends about 540 planeloads of the twigs to Somalia every month. The ban on miraa flights to Mogadishu is the latest in a series of setbacks that have hit the crop after last year’s ban on importation to the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

The Somali government, through its ambassador to Kenya Gamal Hassan said that Mr Munya’s visit to Hargeisa, the administrative capital of the yet-to-be recognised Somaliland in July had caused political pressure back in Somalia to have the trade stopped.

It is said Mr Munya promised to lobby the Kenyan government to recognise Somaliland as an independent state.
Yesterday, a section of Somali press quoted Kenya’s foreign affairs secretary Amina Mohamed as saying the matter had been settled after President Kenyatta intervened.

Earlier in the day, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi led three other MPs from Meru in appealing to Mr Kenyatta to use the ongoing summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) to appeal to the Somali government to lift the ban on miraa flights to Mogadishu. The Igad summit is being held in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Take advantage

“We are appealing to the President to take advantage of the Igad summit in Somalia to ensure that the issue of the ban of miraa is top on its agenda. The ban of miraa, which was occasioned by Governor Munya’s misadventure to Somaliland has affected the economy of the people of Meru,” Mr Murungi said.

Senator Kiraitu, MPs Mithika Linturi (Igembe South) Iringo Kubai (Igembe Central) and Joseph M’eruaki (Igembe North) accused Mr Munya of being behind the woes of miraa farmers and traders.

“As a result of Mr Munya’s visit to Somaliland, miraa is no longer flying to Somalia and it is a matter we all regret.

“We ask President Kenyatta to take advantage of Igad meeting taking place in Somalia to lobby the government of Somalia with a view to resolve the problem amicably,” Mr Linturi said.

He said matters of foreign policy and international trade is a preserve of the national government and not county governments.

“The ban on miraa flights to Somalia is not a political matter but life and death for people of Meru.

The European market for our miraa was closed and the only remaining greatest market for people of Kenya and Meru was Somalia.

“We have been hurt and we continue to suffer economically for the last one week due to ban of miraa to Somalia,” Mr Murungi said.