Kenya arrests 109 Tanzanians, sparking fears of a fresh diplomatic row

They were remanded after they failed to raise a cash bail of Ksh20,000 ($200) each.

The Kenya Navy on Saturday arrested 109 Tanzanians for illegal fishing within the country's territorial waters in the Indian Ocean.

The Tanzanian fishermen were seized at Shimoni, a port village in southeastern Kenya near the border with Tanzania and were presented before a court in Kwale County on Monday.

They were remanded after they failed to raise a cash bail of Ksh20,000 ($200) each according to Lunga Lunga deputy county deputy commissioner Mr Josphat Biwott.

Lunga Lunga Member of Parliament, Khatib Mwashetani, however, came to their defence and appealed for the fishermen's release.

Speaking at Kwale Baraza Park during the World Environment Day on Tuesday, the legislator said some of the fishermen arrested lived in the country and urged Deputy President William Ruto to intervene fearing a diplomatic row with Tanzania will unfold if the fishermen are held up.

"Those who were arrested are our brothers and we share a lot in common because most of the people living in Shimoni depend on fishing for their livelihood," he said.

Kenya and Tanzania have had a series of diplomatic and trade disputes that sour relations between the two neighbours.

The two countries are currently embroiled in a bittersweet row.

Kenya has issued Tanzania with a 30-day ultimatum to allow Kenyan-made confectionery products into their country or risk Tanzanian goods being blocked from entering Kenya.

This is after Tanzania and Uganda last month slapped Kenyan made sweets, juice, ice cream and chewing gum with a 25 per cent import duty citing the use of imported industrial sugar in the goods.

In January this year, Tanzania deported over 100 aliens including 71 Kenyans for being in the country illegally according to Kilimanjaro Immigration Office.

Earlier this year, the two countries in a bid to reduce conflicts began an exercise to mark the boundary by replacing dilapidated and missing beacons and developing a vista along the common border.

The Kenya-Tanzania border is shared among communities from both sides and there has been cross-border business, agriculture and cattle grazing, especially by Maasai herders.

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