Kenya Withdraws From ICJ Hearing Over Somalia Border Dispute

Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean.
Kenya is a country in East Africa with coastline on the Indian Ocean.

 

Kenya will not attend International Court of Justice hearings that begin this week over a long-running border dispute with Somalia, according to a letter seen Sunday by AFP.

The ICJ was asked by Somalia to rule in a case that could decide which of the two countries will have control over a large Indian Ocean zone that is rich in fish and which might contain substantial crude oil reserves.

But in a letter sent Thursday, Kenyan prosecutor general Kihara Kariuki told the Hague-based court his country “shall not be participating in the hearing in the case” that is scheduled for Monday.

Kariuki said the first reason was that “Covid-19 pandemic conditions have hampered Kenya’s ability to prepare adequately for the hearing.”

The UN tribunal rules in disputes between countries, and has been hearing a case brought by Somalia in 2014.

Somalia, which lies northeast of Kenya, wants to extend its maritime frontier with Kenya along the line of the land border, in a southeasterly direction.

Kenya wants the border to head out to sea in a straight line east, giving it more territory.

The disputed triangle of water stretches over an area of more than 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles).

In its letter, Kenya also argued that holding the ICJ hearings virtually did not allow it to present its case in the most effective way.

“Kenya humbly requests the Court to afford its Agent a thirty minute opportunity to orally address the court before the commencement of the actual hearings,” the letter said.

Kenya recalled its ambassador to Somalia in February 2019 after accusing Somalia of selling oil and gas blocks at a London auction despite the pending delineation case before the ICJ.

Kenya also contested the ICJ’s authority to rule in the case.

Somalia has not responded for the moment to Kenya’s decision to boycott the hearing, and the ICJ did not immediately reply to an AFP request for comment on the case.

AFP

International Court To Hear Kenya-Somalia Border Dispute

International_Court_of_Justice, Kenya-Somalia, Border DisputeThe International Court of Justice is set to hear a long-running maritime border dispute between Kenya and Somalia at The Hague.

Kenya’s Attorney-General, Githu Muigai, says he would be leading a high-powered delegation to the ICJ to present Kenya’s case.

In a statement, his department accused Somalia of going back on an agreement reached in 2009 to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

The disputed ocean territory stretches for more than 100,000 sq km.

The dispute has kept investors away because of a lack of legal clarity over who owns potential off-shore oil and gas reserves.

Somalia wants the maritime border to continue along the line of the land border to the south-east, while Kenya wants the sea border to go in a straight line east.

In its application to the court, Somalia, which filed the case in 2014, said the two countries “disagree about the location of the maritime boundary,” according to the tribunal, and that diplomatic negotiations “have failed to resolve this disagreement.”

Somalia has requested that the court “determine the precise geographical coordinates of the single maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.”

The hearings are set for Sept. 19-23.

Pope Francis Focuses On Poor In Bolivia

pope Pope Francis has begun his second leg tour to three poorest countries in South America.

He was received by Bolivia’s first indigenous leader, President Evo Morales, who gave him a ritual pouch with coca, a sacred leaf in the Andes.

Pope Francis insisted that the Catholic Church should continue to play an important role, to protect the most vulnerable in society from the impact of capitalism.

He also called for dialogue between Bolivia and Chile over their long-time border dispute.

The Pope was said to have flown in from Ecuador and will also visit Paraguay.

The Pontiff hailed Bolivia for encouraging the poor to be active citizens, saying ”Bolivia is making important steps towards including broad sectors in the country’s economic, social and political life”.