Somali government says Munya to blame for ban on miraa

Tuesday September 6 2016

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The Somali government has said it imposed a ban on miraa imports from Kenya because Meru Governor Peter Munya had "used the business to campaign for the breakup of the country."

On Tuesday evening, Somali Ambassador to Kenya Gamal Hassan said Mr Munya's visit to Hargeisa in July had caused political pressure back in Somalia to have the trade stopped.

"He linked the territorial integrity of the country to the miraa trade and interfered in the internal affairs of the country," he told Nation.coke.

"This has created a lot of unbearable pressure on the government. We have suspended the trade to have these matters addressed," he added.

On Monday, Somalia announced it would no longer allow flights from Kenya carrying miraa, most of which is grown in Meru County.

In July, Mr Munya had travelled to Hargeisa, the capital of Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland, to lobby for easier trade rules for miraa exporters in Kenya in exchange for some form of recognition for Somaliland.

While there, he met with Somaliland Deputy President Abdurrahman Ishmael, the foreign affairs minister and the finance minister.

But Mogadishu said Mr Munya's reported comments on the probable independence of Somaliland angered officials and politicians keen to have one united Somalia.

Mr Hassan told the Nation his government is discussing the issue with the relevant Kenyan authorities to find an amicable solution.

Kenya sends about 540 planeloads of miraa to Somalia every month.

The ban could cause millions of shillings in losses, especially because Somalia was the last standing market for Kenya following bans on the stimulant in the UK and the Netherlands in recent years.