Maritime dispute: Kenya vows to protect its territory, calls for diplomatic solution

President Uhuru Kenyatta when he held talks with his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo. [PSCU,Standard]

Kenya has maintained it will not cede even an inch of its territory.

While reacting to a judgment by the International Court of Justice over the Maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia, President Uhuru Kenyatta said he would do everything possible as the head of state to preserve the territory of the country.

“Fellow Kenyans, when I became President on April 9, 2013, I took an oath to protect the territorial integrity of the Republic of Kenya. I do not intend to abrogate my solemn oath; and, I will do everything possible as President and Commander-in-Chief, to preserve the territory of this our great Republic and bequeath the same, intact and unencumbered, to the next President when my term expires in less than a year’s time,” Uhuru said.

Uhuru said his administration is however committed to solving the issue amicably.

“Kenya is committed to a diplomatic solution of the current impasse. In this regard, Kenya, as a key proponent of respect for the principle of subsidiarity as a catalyst for African Solutions for African Problems, will resolve this matter through the institutions of the African Union such as the African Union Border Programme and its Peace and Security, architecture, in addition to other bilateral arrangements,” he said.

Uhuru said while Kenya is not surprised at the decision, it is profoundly concerned by the import of the decision and its implications for the Horn of Africa region, and international law generally.

“At the outset, Kenya wishes to indicate that it rejects in totality and does not recognize the findings in the decision,” Uhuru said in a statement.

The president said the decision embodies a perpetuation of the ICJ’s jurisdictional overreach and raises a fundamental question on the respect of the sovereignty and consent of States to international judicial processes.

According to him, international tribunals have jurisdiction only to the extent of consent by a State.

“Kenya, like other independent Countries, possesses a determined geographical territory. As a devoted member of the United Nations, the United Nations Security Council as well as the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, we beseech the rest of the family of Nations to appreciate and respect our inherent right to protect, by all available means, our territory,” Uhuru said.

He said the international community should create an enabling environment for the pursuit of a negotiated settlement.

Uhuru maintained Kenya and Somalia are neighboring States, with a common border, and communities with shared social, cultural and religious practices.

As a result, ICJ’s decision is in the circumstances, a zero-sum game, which will strain the relations between the two countries.

He said the decision will also reverse the social, political and economic gains; and potentially aggravate the peace and security situation in the fragile Horn of Africa Region.

The Tuesday ruling saw the court advocate for an adjustment of the boundary line that would favor both sides.

The new boundary drawn by the International Court of Justice mostly followed a line proposed by Somalia, attributing to it several offshore oil blocks claimed by Kenya.

The revised maritime border along the exclusive economic zones for the continental shelves of Somalia and Kenya "achieves an equitable solution", Judge Joan Donoghue said.

Kenya last week said it had revoked recognition of the court's jurisdiction citing the court’s bias and its withdrawal from the hearing.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the ruling will be a culmination of a flawed judicial process that Kenya had withdrawn from because of its bias and unsuitability of the court to resolve the matter.

Somalia filed the case in 2014 at the United Nations' highest court for disputes between states.