HARGEISA – Somaliland’s Ministry of Trade and Investment temporarily authorized the nation’s khat traders to begin importing khat from Kenya earlier this week, after scores of Somalis were killed by Oromo rebels in Ethiopia last week.
Dr. Omar Shuaib Mohamed, Minister of Trade and Investment, confirmed the government’s temporary authorization of khat importation from Kenya during an interview with HCTV.
“We have temporarily granted licensed khat traders in Somaliland to import khat (miraa) from Kenya,” Mohamed said.
“I would rather not have a market for miraa in Somaliland because of our close ties with Ethiopia and the economic agreements between our two countries,” Mohamed added.
Somaliland spends $524 million a year on khat from Ethiopia – which is roughly 30% of Somaliland’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Many khat-chewing Somalilanders have vowed to never chew khat from Ethiopia again, after more than close to 50 Somalis in Ethiopia were murdered by Oromo rebels. 30 of the murdered Somalis reportedly ate khat that Oromo rebels laced with poison .
Miraa, which is the most popular type of khat chewed in Somalia and Kenya, has now inadvertently become the most popular choice of khat in Somaliland, after last week’s khat poisoning incident in Ethiopia.
Kenya has been vying to establish a market for their khat in Somaliland within the past several years.
Last year, former Meru country governor, Peter Munya, visited Somaliland to meet with members of Somaliland’s government to seek the approval of exporting Miraa to Somaliland. Munya also offered to campaign for Somaliland recognition within Kenya in exchange for allowing the sale of Miraa, which in turn caused a diplomatic row between Somalia and Kenya.
This is a developing story. Please check back at The National for more.