Somalia says it will not settle sea dispute with Kenya out of court

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The likelihood of Kenya and Somalia resolving their maritime dispute out of court has been dashed after Somalia announced that it will be submitting documents to back its case to the United National International Court of Justice tomorrow (Monday). Recently, Kenya Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed told members of the National Assembly that that the two countries had agreed to resolve the dispute in the oil-rich territory matter out of court. Somalia denied the claim.

The triangle of disputed ocean territory stretches for more than 100,000 square kilometers. Somalia’s Information Minister Mohammed Maareeye said Sunday that a 150 page document arguing their case will be deposited today at The Hague Court after the Somali cabinet made a decision that the dispute be arbitrated through the court and not bilaterally. “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, the official mouth piece of the Somali government. Kenya Foreign Affairs CS had told MPs: “We have received a pledge from the Federal Government of Somalia indicating readiness to withdraw a case it filed in New York against us and pull out of the case for us to resolve maritime boundary issues,”

According the court rules, Kenya will have up to 8 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. The case might take several years before the court rules on the matter. 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 Dr Ahmed Ali said that they have written to the six companies that were prospecting for oil, gas and minerals in the disputed area asking them to halt operations till the status of the territory is concluded. When Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Dr Karanja Kibicho was contacted to comment on the matter he said through a text message as follows: “This is a sensitive matter that is before various institutions for an amicable solution,” he said. He added: “I appeal that you allow that to continue without unnecessarily commenting on it.

Trust that government organs dealing with it are on top of things.” Analysts believe that both countries want a quick resolution of the matter since investors seeking to prospect for oil and gas in the area will keep off until the dispute is finally resolved.

Recently, the President of the Somalia Federal government Hassan Sheikh told the Somali Parliament that the issue will be resolved through the courts saying bilateral efforts had not succeeded. “The Somalia government is always ready to cultivate good neighbourliness with Kenya. We want this dispute to be resolved as quickly as possible,” he said.

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