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Regional efforts needed to solve boundary disputes

By THE STANDARD EDITORIAL | October 16th 2014

NAIROBi, KENYA: In 1978, during the reign of President Siad Barre, Somalia and Ethiopia went to war over their common border.

Mid this year, the republic of Somalia filed a case against Kenya at the International Court of Justice, claiming the latter had encroached on its territorial waters.

This is a wake up call to the Government to ensure that our borders are clearly defined to avoid situations that could lead to conflicts with neighbours over boundaries.

Somalia is an unstable, war-ravaged country that has been propped up by the efforts of Kenya and other countries in the region, but has chosen to repay that kindness with a stab in the back even before it realises stability - both economic and political.

It was not necessary for Somalia to sue Kenya when diplomacy would have resolved the issue amicably.

It is not in doubt that the withdrawal of Kenya from Somalia would see it lapse back into a state of lawlessness.

Not daunted by that possibility, the discovery of oil along the Kenya-Somalia coastline might have informed the suit, hence the claim to benefit from that find in case the ICJ verdict favours it.

Should that happen, does Somalia have the wherewithal to bring up the oil without Al-Shabaab messing the efforts?

The Eastern Africa region is full of border disputes. Besides the Kenya-Somalia coastline dispute, there is an outstanding border dispute with Uganda at Migingo Island. In 1998, Ethiopia and Eritrea went to war over their border. In 2008, there arose a dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti.

This brings to mind the fact that the current demarcations were done by colonialists without regard to ethnic or cultural boundaries.

While Kenya is out to challenge the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to listen to the suit filed by the government of Somalia, it might be of utmost necessity for governments in the region to sit down and set up a body that could conclusively address the boundary disputes threatening peaceful coexistence.

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