ICJ BEGINS HEARING KENYA-SOMALIA MARITIME DISPUTE CASE

Kenya and Somalia are arguing their maritime boundary case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague.

Somalia sued Kenya in 2014 asking for a proper determination of the sea border between the neighbouring countries.

The bone of contention is rights of exploration and collection of revenues from lucrative oil reserves in an area estimated to be about 100,000 square kilometres in the Indian Ocean.

Kenya and Somalia had in 2009 reached a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which was then deposited in the UN in 2011.

Kenya accuses Somalia of reneging on the MoU, but the man who signed that MoU for Somalia says the government’s hands were tied when Parliament rejected it.

The case will be heard over the next four days but reports indicate that the dispute could threatened exploration rights that Kenya has granted to oil and gas companies already working in the area.

The 15-judge bench heard on Monday that Somalia initiated the case when Kenya’s soldiers were fighting to reclaim the neighbouring nation’s freedom from Al Shabaab insurgents.

Kenya told the judges that Somalia mutilated the 2009 agreement on the ocean boundary in order not to go into negotiations.

The Hague-based court was informed that the agreement signed on April 7, 2009 by the two countries, and also subscribed by the UN as an international treaty, did not provide for the court’s intervention as a remedy of resolving any disagreement over sea boundary between the Horn of Africa and Kenya.

Instead, Kenya submitted, the two countries agreed to hold negotiations in a bid to settle any deadlocks experienced in their meetings.

Kenya fronted a seven-faced argument with Attorney General Githu Muigai making the opening remarks.

The AG told the court that hundreds of Kenyan soldiers and her citizens had paid the price for Somalia’s instability and as such, it was illogical for the country to claim part of the sea when her neighbour was fighting and at the same time being fought from the same sea line.

“The court is not competent in the present case. Kenya advocates for a friendly way of solving the dispute. Since the collapse of the Somalia State in 1991, Kenya has provided a safe haven for Somali nationals,” Prof Githu stated.

He added: “In fact, Kenya played a decisive role to defeat Al Shabaab. Hundreds of Kenyan soldiers have lost their lives defending Somalia; they have poured their blood for peace in Somalia. Kenyans have also suffered because of Somalia. Then Somalia’s bad faith should be assessed in this context.”

In his submissions, the AG refuted claims that Kenya wanted to take Somalia’s waters saying such thoughts were unkind.

“Somalia says Kenya wanted to steal its sea and oil, those comments are hurtful,” Githu said.

Somalia based its case on failed negotiations claiming that Kenya knowingly skipped the third meeting.

“Kenya and Somalia agreed they ought to settle maritime disputes outside the court. Somalia should respect its agreement,” the judges were told.

Somalia will present its round one arguments on Tuesday.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK