Somalia yesterday cut diplomatic relations with neighbouring Kenya, accusing the latter of meddling in its political affairs.
"Somalia calls back all its diplomats from Kenya and orders Kenyan diplomats to leave Somalia within seven days," Somali Information Minister, Osman Dube, told the state news agency. "This is an answer to the constant political violation and Kenya's open interference in Somalia's independence," he added, according to Reuters.
The move comes as an escalation of a dispute between the two countries that emerged last month after Somalia expelled Nairobi's ambassador and recalled its own envoy for alleged interference in the electoral process in Jubbaland – one of the five semi-autonomous Somali states.
It also comes following a recent two-day visit to Kenya by Muse Bihi Abdi, president of Somalia's breakaway region of Somaliland, during which, Abdi and the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged their "commitment to deepen the cordial bilateral relations between Kenya and Somaliland."
The Kenyan government did not immediately respond.
Politicians say that the dispute could undermine cooperation in the fight against the Islamist group Al-Shabaab in Somalia, where Kenya provides 3,600 troops to an African Union (AU) peacekeeping force.
The diplomatic tensions come as anti-government protests broke out in Mogadishu, where demonstrators slammed President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed over delayed elections for both houses of parliament. The polls, which were due to be held early this month, have stalled on disagreements over the composition of the electoral board.