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Somali prime minister mourns Senator Yussuf Haji

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Somali prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble has today condoled with the family and the people of Garissa County following the death of their senator, Mohamed Yusuf Haji.

In a twitter post, the premier eulogised the veteran politician as an elder for all Somalis.

“May God have mercy on Senator Mohamed Yusuf Haji who was a Somali elder and a veteran politician who had a great influence and value in the Somali region and the Horn of Africa as whole,” the prime minister said in the post.

The 80- year-old Haji died on Monday morning while receiving treatment at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi. Haji was a long time administrator who served in various areas including the vast Rift valley between 1970 and 1998.

He was nominated to Parliament in 2002. And in 2007, he was elected to Parliament unopposed as Ijara MP.

Mr Haji was also the chairperson of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) task force.

Haji was the Minister of Defence from 2008 to 2013 during Mwai Kibaki’s administration and briefly served as the acting Minister of Internal Security and Provincial Affairs in 2012.

It was during his tenure when the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) troops were deployed to Somalia to fight Al Shabaab.

In 2015, as he served as the chairman of the Senate National Security and Foreign Relations Committee, Haji proposed that individuals from indigenous communities be recruited in security teams to help fight against cattle rustling because of their knowledge of terrains.

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Briefing

UK upholds Kenya travel ban

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The United Kingdom has maintained Kenya on its list of countries barred from entering Britain, causing a setback to Nairobi’s efforts to review the travel embargo.

The UK in the previous week reviewed countries on England’s “Red List” due to the spread of covid-19 variants. Kenya was kept on the travel ban. It was first included in the list in April this year leading to retaliation from Nairobi.

The UK travel ban comes after the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant caused the fourth wave of infections in Kenya in recent times.

Reconciliatory talks were initiated in mid-April to review the travel ban. However, recent happenings show that the negotiations have not yielded much.

Meanwhile, Kenya lifted the ban on flights between Nairobi and London and eased restrictions imposed for its inclusion on UK’s red list.

In May, Kenya relaxed requirements imposed on British citizens travelling to the East African country. The British citizens must be isolated for 14 days before they can are admitted to the country.

In mid-June review, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said the British nationals and non-citizens travelling through London are expected to self-isolate for only seven days.

Even though the UK has dealt a big blow to Kenya, its decisions are based on scientific evidence on the incidence of deadly and highly contagious Covid-19 strains. The Covid-19 Delta variant, first identified in India, is currently dominant in western Kenya, where it was first detected in the country.

The UK is not the only country that has restricted Kenyans from entering its borders.

According to the Henley Passport Index, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, Bulgaria and Singapore top the list of countries that have placed restrictions on holders of Kenyan passports. Others are Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Chile, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Cameroon.

As of July 17, 2021, Kenya had 192,435 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3,760 deaths, with a positivity rate of 10.5 per cent.

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Briefing

Somali army retakes key town from al Shabab

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Somali security forces retook a key town in Somalia’s central Mudug region from al-Shabab terrorists on Sunday, officials said.

“The Gorgor commandos of the national army today attacked al-Shabab terrorists in the Qodqod area of Mudug region, where the terrorists suffered casualties including deaths, injuries, and destruction,” the Somali military said in a statement.

The town was recaptured by the Somali army alongside central State of Galmudug forces after fierce fighting with the al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists, forcing them to escape, according to Ibrahim Mohamud, a local official from where the operation took place.

He said some government soldiers were injured in the fighting.

“Galmudug security forces alongside with SNA (Somali National Army) have now fully retaken Amara town from al-Shabab militants after a planned offensive on Sunday morning,” government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said on Twitter.

He said the town is completely under the control of the joint forces.

“Government soldiers are now heading to Sigro village controlled by the terror group,” he added.

On Saturday, the Somali military and regional paramilitary forces recaptured from al-Shabab the small town of Ba’adweyne, also in the Mudug region.

Al-Shabab has been behind hundreds of terrorist attacks over the years, including a 2017 bombing in the capital Mogadishu that took some 600 lives, the worst attack in the Horn of Africa country’s history.

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Briefing

Seychelles Supreme Court acquits five Somalis, citing no evidence of piracy

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The Supreme Court ruled that at the time of the men’s apprehension they had not been found to be doing anything illegal and did not have any illegal weapons with them.

The five men were released after the ruling.

The trial of the five Somalis started in September 2020, over a year after they were captured by the European Naval Force’s (EU NAVFOR) flagship ESPS NAVARRA.

The EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta transferred the five suspects to the Seychellois authorities in 2019 following a transfer agreement between the island nation in the western Indian Ocean and the EU with support from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The defence lawyer, Joel Camille, said the fact the defendants’ legal team changed three times contributed to the delay.

Now that the men have been acquitted, the UNDOC will make the necessary arrangements to deport them as they are in the country on a Prohibited Immigrant status.

However, Camille also said that he is not aware as to whether the men will begin proceedings for compensation following their two-year stay in Seychelles’ prison.

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