Kismayo airport in southern Somalia refused to allow an Ethiopian aircraft to land, a witness said, amid heightened tensions between the federal government and the regional leadership ahead of elections.
Somalia’s central government said it would not recognise the result of an upcoming vote to elect a president of Jubbaland, a key battleground state for counter-terrorism operations, saying the candidate selection process violated the national constitution.
The Jubbaland election commission said the vote would go ahead on Thursday.
Security analysts say the spat can cause friction between neighbouring Kenya and Ethiopia, long-time allies each with significant numbers of peacekeepers in the Horn of Africa nation.
A staff member at Kismayo airport said the aircraft took off from Gode in south-eastern Ethiopia and eventually landed in the Somali town Baidoa. It was not certain if the aircraft was civilian or military.
“It wanted to land at Kismayo airport but was denied clearance because it did not send information in advance,” Reuters was told.
Incumbent Jubbaland President Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, who is seeking re-election, is a key security partner for Kenya, while Ethiopia has grown closer to the federal government in Mogadishu.