Kenya Defence Forces played a major role in helping Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe reign authority and respect from among local and international leaders.

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Since August, federal government under Mohamed Farmaajo has refused to recognize Madobe's victory, often accusing Kenya of rigging him in.

For almost a month, Farmaajo banned direct flights to Kismayo Airport, ostensibly to block dignitaries from attending Madobe's inauguration which was cancelled a fortnight ago.

But a senior government official, who spoke in confidence, said KDF played a major role in organising for landing of an aircraft from Kenya to Kismayo Airport on Saturday.

"The KDF' team organised for the plane to carry senior Somalia government officials directly to Kismayo. Despite the fact that direct flights were banned, KDF was protecting the plane.

"There is nothing that could have happened. Kenyan government was keen to ensure the inauguration gets the status it deserves. KDF organised for transportation of the officials," he said without giving much details.

The last minute trick caught Somalia government flat-footed and the federal government has since sued Kenya for allegedly violating airspace rules.

Aboard the plane were former federal state leaders Sharif Hassan Aden (South West) and Abdikarim Hussein Guled (Galmudug). 

There were also several Somali MPs heading to Kismayu ahead of the planned, but controversial, swearing-in of Jubbaland President Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, according to local online news portal Garowe.

With the inauguration date still kept a top Jubaland secret, Puntland President Abdullahi Deni on Wednesday also boarded a special flight to Kismayo, a sign that it would take place anytime.

Another Kenyan government official faulted Somalia for reporting Kenya to International Civil Aviations Authority, arguing that Kenya has no authority over private aircrafts.

“It sounds like a smear campaign to portray Kenya as bad. But we aren’t bad, we are a law-abiding state. In fact, the responsibility to police aircraft movement in Somali airspace rests with the Somali government,” said a senior official discussing the matter on background.

With Madobe now set for inauguration, the latest development could further escalate tensions between Kenya and Somalia, whose relationship has dwindled lately.

KDF, which mans Sector 6 and 2 of Jubaland, was accused in August of blocking Ethiopian plane that had ferried Somali officials who were monitoring Jubaland polls from landing.

Already, Kenya and Somalia are battling for Indian Ocean maritime border, with the two facing each other at the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

The Jubaland President Ahmed Madobe helped KDF in flushing Al-Shabaab out of Kismayo through his Ras Kamboni Brigade. He has been battling to have leaders attend his inauguration.