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Kenya, Somalia maritime dispute rages

By Ally Jamah | July 13th 2015

The maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia may not be resolved out of court following a decision by the neighbouring country to submit its case to the International Court of Justice.

Recently, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed told MPs that the two countries had agreed to resolve the dispute over the oil-rich territory matter out of court, a claim that Somalia denied.

“We have received a pledge from the Federal Government of Somalia, indicating readiness to withdraw a case it filed against us and pull out of the case for us to resolve maritime boundary issues,” she had said.

The triangle of disputed ocean territory stretches for more than 100,000 square kilometres.

Somalia’s Information Minister Mohammed Maareeye said Sunday that a 150-page document will be deposited today at the United Nations court at The Hague.

This was after the Somali Cabinet made a decision that the dispute be arbitrated through the court and not bilaterally.

Halt operations

“Both Kenya and Somalia have attempted in the past to resolve the matter bilaterally but those attempts were unsuccessful. That is why we decided to take the matter to the UN court,” he told Radio Mogadishu.

According to the court’s rules, Kenya will have up to eight months to respond to the application by Somalia after which hearings will begin formally.

If everything goes according to plan, the hearing of the case may begin in March next year and might take several years before the court gives a ruling.

Kenya wants the maritime border to go in a straight line east from the land border, while Somalia wants it to continue along the line of the land border, to the southeast diagonally.

Last Thursday, Somalia’s Attorney General Ahmed Ali claimed they have written to six companies that had been awarded prospecting licences by Kenya for oil, gas and minerals in the disputed area; asking them to halt operations till the status of the territory is concluded.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said the matter was sensitive and various institutions are involved in trying to reach an amicable solution.

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