Parts Of Kenya Suffer Through Second Day Of Power Cuts

 

Kenya on Wednesday faced a second consecutive day of rolling power cuts after a damaged transmission line caused a nationwide outage in East Africa’s most dynamic economy.

The country of nearly 50 million suffered a nearly day-long blackout Tuesday after four electricity pylons connecting Nairobi to a hydroelectric dam collapsed, state-run utility Kenya Power said.

By evening, Kenya Power had declared the problem resolved in most of the country but a second outage caused by another malfunctioning transmission line cut supply once again to many areas on Wednesday.

Kenya Power said Tuesday’s collapse had triggered “glitches” in other supply units and only a small portion of the country remained without electricity.

“If you have such a major outage, you will have small issues here and there of the main system being unstable,” Kenya Power spokesman Gregory Ngahu told AFP.

Kenya taps hydro, geothermal and wind to help generate energy but power costs remain high, in part because of a fuel surcharge for running diesel generators to cover peak demand times.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government last week announced a 15 percent reduction in power tariffs to assist lower income households.

“Maybe it will be achieved by not supplying power 15 percent of the time,” quipped a Twitter user following the blackouts.

In 2016 a monkey tripped a major power cut in Kenya after falling onto a transformer at a power station.

The primate survived its brush with death but large parts the country were left without power for several hours.

KFC Runs Out Of Fries In Kenya, Triggers Online Outcry

A file photo of a KFC meal.
A file photo of a KFC meal.

 

US fast-food chain KFC has triggered an online furore in Kenya after it ran out of fries, with local Twitter users threatening a boycott because it does not use locally-sourced potatoes.

“You love our chips a little too much, and we’ve run out. Sorry!” KFC admitted on Twitter this week, offering its customers various alternatives.

The franchise’s regional boss Jacques Theunissen said it had become the latest casualty of global shipping disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

READ ALSO: Senegal Rejects Attempt To Toughen Anti-Gay Law

“It has to do with delays in shipping lines due to the Covid situation,” he told local news outlet Business Daily.

He said KFC was hoping to resolve the shortage with the expected arrival of a container-load of potatoes this week.

But it was his admission that the company does not source potatoes from local farmers that ignited a Twitter storm among Kenyans.

“All suppliers need to go through the global quality assurance approval process and we cannot bypass that even if we run out to ensure that our food is safe for consumption by our customers,” Theunissen said.

With the news coming during Kenya’s potato harvesting season, many took to social media to call for people to snub the fast-food giant and #BoycottKFC was trending on Twitter.

“If you are a true Kenyan, you should not eat chips prepared by KFC! Eat chips elsewhere,” one user tweeted.

The fried chicken franchise entered the Kenyan market in 2011 and has 35 outlets across the East African region.

Kenya grows more than 60 different varieties of potatoes, with farmers currently struggling with a glut.

In an apparent U-turn, KFC said Tuesday it had initiated plans to source potatoes from Kenyan farmers, adding it was already doing so for other goods such as poultry, vegetables, flour and ice cream.

KFC’s competitors were quick to take advantage of the gaffe to promote their own chips, with Burger King tweeting: “We have enough fries for everyone.”

AFP

Six Killed In Suspected Al-Shabaab Attack In Kenya

File photo of Kenya map

 

Six people have been killed and homes torched in a grisly attack Monday by suspected Al-Shabaab militants in a Kenyan coastal region bordering Somalia, police and government officials said.

One man was beheaded and five others shot or burned to death in the attack in a village in Lamu County approximately 420 kilometres (260 miles) southeast of Nairobi, police said.

Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said the attackers were suspected jihadists from Al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group based across the border in Somalia.

“Our security forces are pursuing them, and we urge support from locals to help us because when we work together we succeed,” he told AFP.

READ ALSO: Mali Launches Forum On Return To Civil Rule

Police said the attackers stabbed and beheaded a local elder and razed his home, and shot dead another man whose body was found on a roadside nearby.

The corpses of four other men burned beyond recognition were found with their hands bound in another location, according to the police report seen by AFP.

“Also several houses were torched within the locality and property of unknown value burnt,” the report said.

Bullet cases were recovered and an investigation is ongoing.

 

 

– Retaliatory attacks –

The Lamu region, which includes the popular tourist beach destination of Lamu Island, lies close to the Somali frontier and has suffered frequent attacks, often carried out with roadside bombs.

In mid-2014, close to 100 people were killed in a series of armed assaults on the inland town of Mpeketoni — in the same region as Monday’s attack — and surrounding villages in Lamu county.

Al-Shabaab fighters have staged several numerous attacks inside Kenya in retaliation for Nairobi sending troops into Somalia in 2011 as part of an African Union force to oust the jihadists.

In January 2020, the Islamists stormed a US military base in Lamu, destroying several aircraft and killing three Americans.

A year earlier, Al-Shabaab gunmen killed 21 people at an upscale hotel complex in Nairobi while previous attacks saw 67 killed at the Westgate shopping centre in 2013 and 148 at Garissa University in 2015.

The jihadists are seeking to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, and control swathes of southern Somalia from where they regularly launch attacks in the capital and elsewhere.

Somalia is gripped by political crisis with its president and prime minister locked in a feud over the country’s long-delayed elections, an impasse analysts say is distracting from the fight against the Al-Shabaab.

AFP

Kenya Bans Unvaccinated From Public Places As COVID-19 Cases Soar

People wait to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at Ngando informal settlement in Nairobi, on December 16, 2021 during a mass vaccination. – Kenya has detected its first three cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19. (Photo by Simon MAINA / AFP)

 

People in Kenya will have to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination to use public transport or enter government offices, the health ministry said Wednesday, ignoring a court order against the measures.

The proportion of Kenyans returning a positive Covid test has soared recently, from 1 percent in early December to almost 30 percent now, smashing previous records as fears grow over the infectiousness of the Omicron variant.

In the last 24 hours, 3,328 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 out of 11,197 tests — a key indicator of the spread of the virus in a country where access to tests is limited and overall infection figures can be unreliable.

The East African country announced last month that it would impose tough restrictions on unvaccinated people from December 21 but a Nairobi court last week suspended the order pending the hearing of a case filed by a businessman who called the measures “tyrannical”.

But on Wednesday, senior health ministry official Mercy Mwangangi said the restrictions were now in force.

“In public places, all persons must show proof of vaccination for admission for example into national parks, game reserves, hotels, bars as well as use of public transport,” she said.

“In the event of non-compliance, action shall be taken, which may include the withdrawal of the licence of the institution.”

She said rule-breakers could face action in the courts.

Campaigners including Human Rights Watch have criticised the directive as discriminatory and urged the government to abandon the plan, which also requires visitors from Europe to provide proof of full vaccination.

Early data suggest Omicron could be more contagious than previous strains and may have higher resistance to vaccines.

Kenya has reported just over 270,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic but hospitalisations and fatalities have fallen in recent weeks.

– New restrictions –

Since it was first reported in South Africa in November, the heavily mutated Omicron variant has been identified in dozens of countries, prompting many to reimpose travel restrictions and other measures.

Uganda on Wednesday said unvaccinated staff would not be allowed on school premises next month when educational institutions reopen for the first time in nearly two years.

Rwanda this month escalated Covid curbs including, shutting down nightclubs and extending quarantine periods for international travellers.

It also banned unvaccinated people from using public transport in the capital Kigali for three weeks.

South Sudan on Tuesday announced a three-week partial lockdown in the face of spiralling infections and a slow vaccination campaign, with just 185,970 people fully inoculated.

The world’s youngest country is emerging from years of civil war and lacks roads and other basic infrastructure required to reach its 11 million people, many of whom live in remote areas.

As in other parts of the region, fear of side effects and rumours that the vaccine causes impotence or is otherwise unsafe have spurred wariness.

Death Toll In Kenya Bus Accident Climbs To 31

Kenyan flag.

 

Divers recovered seven more bodies Sunday from a bus that was swept off a bridge by a flooding river in Kenya, bringing the death toll from the tragedy to more than 30.

The bus was taking a church choir and other revellers to a wedding in Kitui County on Saturday when it keeled over and sank beneath fast-flowing waters as the driver tried to navigate a submerged bridge.

Twelve passengers managed to scramble to safety but most aboard the stricken bus were unable to escape before it was swallowed by the muddy tide.

READ ALSO: UK Adds Nigeria To Red List Over Omicron Fears

Kitui governor Charity Ngilu said 31 bodies had been retrieved since Saturday by military divers, but warned the toll could rise further as the search and rescue operation continued.

“Today we have been able to retrieve seven. We still have more bodies in the bus,” she told reporters late Sunday.

“It is very, very sad indeed. We have lost so many lives.”

It remains unclear how many passengers were aboard the bus when it tipped into the Enziu River, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of the capital Nairobi.

Witnesses said the driver had stopped to negotiate the river and was close to the other side when the bus was swept beneath the churning currents.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday sent his condolences to the families of the victims and urged Kenyans to be cautious on roads during the rainy season.

“Once again, the President wishes to remind Kenyans across the country to heed government advisory against attempting to cross swollen rivers, especially during the current rainy season,” read a statement from Kenyatta’s office.

AFP

Kenya To Bar Unvaccinated People From Public Places, Govt. Services

File photo: Medical personnel at the Nairobi National Vaccine Depot where the country’s first batch of COVID-19 vaccines are preserved in cold storage, unpack packages used to deliver the consignment in Nairobi on March 4, 2021. AFP

 

Kenyans will have to prove they are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to gain access to government services and public places such as national parks, bars, and restaurants under new health regulations.

The move comes despite Kenya recording a declining number of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, but against a backdrop of heightened restrictions in some European countries that are battling soaring cases.

Kenya will require people to show vaccination certificates from December 21, and is planning a 10-day mass inoculation campaign from November 26, Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said in a statement issued late Sunday.

Visitors from Europe will also have to provide proof of full vaccination, he added.

Kenya, Kagwe said, has seen a “marked decrease” in the number of severe cases and deaths, with a positivity rate over the last 14 days ranging from 0.8 percent to 2.6 percent.

Since the start of the pandemic, the East African powerhouse has recorded a total of 254,629 cases and 5,325 deaths.

READ ALSO: Iraq Gets 1.2 Million Doses Of Pfizer COVID Vaccine

‘Not yet time to celebrate’ 

“I have no doubt that looking at these statistics, it’s very easy to become complacent and fail to appreciate the magnitude of the problem that we still face with the pandemic,” Kagwe said.

“The current decline in the number of new infections may be attributed to a buildup of immunity both through natural exposure to the disease and the ongoing vaccination exercise. Nonetheless, we know that it’s not yet time to celebrate.”

Only 2.4 million people, or less than nine percent of Kenya’s adult population, have been vaccinated, according to official figures, compared with a government target of 30 million by the end of next year.

Kagwe voiced concern about the low uptake of Covid shots, particularly among the elderly, and said it had slowed after the lifting of a night-time nationwide curfew last month.

He said Kenya had received a total of 10.7 million vaccine doses and expected to get another eight million, without giving a timeframe.

Under the new measures, in-person access to government services including hospitals, education, tax, and immigration offices will be limited to those carrying proof of vaccination.

Similar restrictions will be imposed for public places such as national parks and game reserves, hotels, bars, and restaurants, while all indoor gatherings will be limited to two-thirds capacity for vaccinated people only.

All those working in the public transport sector, such as pilots, drivers and “boda boda” motorcycle taxi drivers must also be fully inoculated.

AFP

US Excludes Nigeria From Religious Freedom Violators’ List

In this file photo, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses reporters during his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on January 27, 2021. CARLOS BARRIA / POOL / AFP


The United States on Wednesday excluded Nigeria from its list of religious violators.

In a statement by the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, the US blacklisted Russia, China, and eight other countries.

The communique listed the nations as “Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

Blinken’s statement which was titled, ‘Religious Freedom Designations’, also disclosed that Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua have all been placed on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.”

READ ALSO: Lagos EndSARS Panel Submits Report One Year After Inauguration

In a similar vein, the US also designated Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern.

The US Secretary of State, in his statement, said, “The United States will not waiver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country.

“In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.

“This Administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right”.

He added that “the challenges to religious freedom in the world today are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention.

“We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their laws and practices and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses.

“The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organizations, and members of religious communities to advance religious freedom around the world and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe”.

In 2020, the US placed Nigeria and six other countries on its special watch list of states that had engaged in or tolerated the severe violation of religious freedom, however, the nation was exempted in the 2021 list.

Wednesday’s development comes as a plus ahead of Blinken’s scheduled visit to Nigeria within the week.

The US Secretary of State, who is currently in Kenya on an official visit, is expected to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and other members of his administration.

In his remark in Kenya, Blinken warned that ‘democratic recession’ is growing around the world, stressing that vibrant democracies have become increasingly vulnerable to misinformation, corruption, political violence, and voter intimidation.

When he arrives in Nigeria, the US Secretary of State is expected to broadly address the COVID-19 pandemic and build back to a more inclusive global economy, combating the climate crisis, revitalising democracies, and advancing peace and security.

US Secretary Of State To Visit Nigeria, Kenya, And Senegal

In this file photo, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses reporters during his first press briefing at the State Department in Washington, DC, on January 27, 2021. CARLOS BARRIA / POOL / AFP

 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken travels to Kenya, Nigeria, and Senegal next week, where he will discuss ending the Covid-19 pandemic and battling climate change, his spokesman said Thursday.

Blinken will meet with the president of each country to “advance US-Africa collaboration on shared global priorities,” state department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

Other topics of conversation on the agenda for the Monday to Saturday trip include revitalizing democracies, advancing peace and security, and a more inclusive global economy, Price said.

READ ALSO: In Paris, Buhari Calls For Equitable Distribution Of COVID-19 Vaccines

Blinken travels first to Nairobi, where he will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and other government officials, and underscore US support for peaceful 2022 elections.

Next, he travels to Abuja, to meet with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and deliver a speech on US-Africa policy.

He will end his trip in Dakar where he will meet with Senegalese President Macky Sall and other officials.

AFP

Kenyan Mob Lynches ‘Bloodthirsty Vampire’ Child Killer

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.

 

Kenyan villagers on Friday lynched a man believed to be a “bloodthirsty vampire” child murderer, days after the self-confessed serial killer escaped from police custody, officials said. 

Masten Milimo Wanjala was arrested on July 14 over the disappearance of two children, but in a chilling confession, admitted to killing at least 10 others over a five-year period, “sometimes through sucking blood from their veins before executing them”, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said at the time.

The 20-year-old was due for a court appearance Wednesday in Nairobi over the cold-blooded murders which targeted 12- and 13-year-old children, when officers noticed during the morning roll call that he had disappeared.

READ ALSO: Kenyan Athlete Agnes Tirop Found Dead With Stab Wounds

But a mob caught up with him Friday after he was identified by schoolgoing children at his rural home in Bungoma, more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the police station he had escaped from.

“He comes from this area and so the children saw him and knew it was him and that is when information spread around and locals started pursuing him,” area administrator Bonface Ndiema said.

“In the end he ran into a neighbour’s house but he was flushed out and lynched.”

Police had in July described Wanjala’s arrest as a major breakthrough in an investigation into a spate of disturbing child disappearances in the East African country.

His victims were drugged and drained of their blood and some of them strangled, police said.

‘Submerged in sewers’

According to police, Wanjala’s first victim was a 12-year-old girl he kidnapped five years ago in Machakos county east of Nairobi.

The murder of his next victim in western Kenya sparked protests, with locals torching the house of the person they suspected killed the boy.

“Unbeknownst to some of the worried families, their children were long executed by the beast and their remains dumped in thickets. Others were submerged in sewer lines in the city and left to rot away,” the DCI said in July.

The bodies of several children feared to have died at Wanjala’s hands have yet to be found.

Three officers who were on duty at the Nairobi police station where he was held were arrested this week on allegations that they either aided or “neglected to prevent” his escape.

A court ordered their release on bail on Friday as a probe into the escape gets under way.

Police spokesman Bruno Shiosho told AFP they have launched a forensic investigation into the identity of the lynched man.

“The locals have said it is him… For now we can confirm that a man locals say is Masten Wanjala who was on the run has been lynched in Bungoma,” he said.

 

AFP

Kenyan Athlete Agnes Tirop Found Dead With Stab Wounds

In this file photo taken on May 04, 2018 Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya celebrates after winning second-place in the women’s 3000 metres race during the Diamond League athletics competition at the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.  KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

Record-breaking Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop was found dead Wednesday with stab wounds to her stomach in a suspected homicide, athletics officials said.

Police said they were on the hunt for her husband over the incident at Tirop’s home in the high-altitude training hub of Iten in western Kenya.

Tirop, 25, was a fast-rising athlete — a double world 10,000m bronze medallist and 2015 world cross county champion who also finished fourth in the 5,000m at the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Only last month, she smashed the women-only 10km world record at the Road to Records Event in Germany, with a time of 30:01, slicing 28 seconds off the previous record, Athletics Kenya said.

Tirop also made history in 2015 when she became the second-youngest ever gold medallist in the women’s cross country championships after Zola Budd.

“Kenya has lost a jewel who was one of the fastest rising athletics giants on the international stage, thanks to her eye-catching performances on the track,” Athletics Kenya said in a statement.

“We are still working to unearth more details about her demise.”

Keiyo North police commander Tom Makori told AFP that Tirop’s husband Emmanuel Rotich was a “man of interest” in the case and was the subject of a police hunt.

“He can tell us what happened,” Makori said. “The suspect had made a call to Tirop’s parents saying that he’d committed something wrong. So we believe he knows what happened.”

RELATED: Libya Raid Against Migrants Kills One, Wounds 15, Says UN

‘A Kenyan Hero’ 

In this file photo taken on May 04, 2018 Agnes Jebet Tirop of Kenya celebrates after winning second-place in the women’s 3000 metres race during the Diamond League athletics competition at the Suhaim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.  KARIM JAAFAR / AFP

 

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta paid tribute to the young athlete and urged the police to track down those behind her death.

“It is unsettling, utterly unfortunate and very sad that we’ve lost a young and promising athlete who, at a young age of 25 years, she had brought our country so much glory through her exploits on the global athletics stage,” he said in a statement.

“It is even more painful that Agnes, a Kenyan hero by all measures, painfully lost her young life through a criminal act perpetuated by selfish and cowardly people,” he said.

The US embassy in Nairobi also expressed its condolences over the loss of Tirop, describing her as “a figure of hope for women in sports”.

On Saturday, another Kenyan long-distance athlete Hosea Mwok Macharinyang, a member of the country’s record-breaking world cross country team, died of what Kenyan athletics officials said was suicide.

Macharinyang, 35, was found in his home in West Pokot in western Kenya.

“He was such a brilliant athlete, committed to the sport where he competed for Kenya for many years in both cross country and the 5,000m and 10,000m races,” Jackson Pkemoi, the West Pokot representative of Athletics Kenya, told AFP.

Macharinyang made a record eight appearances, and won three consecutive titles for Kenya in the World Cross Country Championships from 2006 to 2008.

Kenya is the most successful nation in the cross country championships, having won 49 team and 27 individual titles.

AFp

Biden To Host Kenyan President Kenyatta 

File photo: US President Joe Biden speaks on the American Jobs Plan, following a tour of Tidewater Community College in Norfolk, Virginia on May 3, 2021. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

Joe Biden will welcome Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, in the first visit by an African leader to the White House during his presidency.

The summit will be part of “Biden’s commitment to the US partnership with Africa based on principles of mutual respect and equality,” a White House statement said Tuesday.

It said Biden and Kenyatta would discuss “the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems,” amid a push by the Biden administration to fight both corruption and inequities overseas.

The two will also “discuss efforts to defend democracy and human rights, advance peace and security, accelerate economic growth and tackle climate change,” the White House said.

Biden has vowed to promote democracy overseas. Once-stable Kenya saw deadly political violence after 2017 elections, but Kenyatta has since made up with his former rival Raila Odinga.

Biden took office vowing a new commitment to Africa after the disinterest of his predecessor Donald Trump, who was the first president in decades not to visit sub-Saharan Africa.

But Biden has only gone on one international trip and has trimmed the number of visitors at the White House amid continued precautions against Covid-19.

Much of the Biden administration’s attention in Africa has turned to Ethiopia, a longtime US ally that has disappointed Washington with a nearly year-old offensive in the Tigray region.

Ethiopia launched the operation late last year in response to attacks on an army camp by the then ruling party in Tigray, where UN officials say that hundreds of thousands are facing severe hunger.

Kenyatta, speaking Tuesday after a UN Security Council meeting on Ethiopia, called for “an immediate cessation of hostilities by both sides.”

“We do not believe that there is a military solution, and we need to urgently have all parties coming across the table in order for us to be able to ensure that all humanitarian corridors are actually opened,” he told reporters.

“We will continue to push — not just as Kenya, as a neighbor and a member of the Security Council but also through the African Union.”

AFP

Sea Of Troubles: The Somalia-Kenya Marine Border Spat

This aerial view taken on September 19, 2019 shows Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. Tina SMOLE / AFP

 

Somalia and Kenya have been feuding for years over a triangular area of the Indian Ocean that is believed to hold deposits of oil and gas.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is due to rule on their border dispute on Tuesday.

Line of sovereignty

The two sides disagree over the direction the maritime boundary should take from the point where their frontiers meet at the coast.

Somalia, which initiated arbitration in The Hague, argues the marine boundary should follow the line of its land border and thus head towards the southeast.

READ ALSO: Top UN Court To Rule On Bitter Kenya-Somalia Border Spat

Kenya says its border heads out to sea in a straight line east.

Nairobi says it has exercised sovereignty over the contested area since 1979, when Kenya proclaimed the limits of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The EEZ is a marine territory extending up to 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) offshore where a state has the right to exploit resources.

Treasure below

Riches as well as sovereignty are at stake.

It is believed an oil and gas bonanza lies beneath the disputed 100,000-square-kilometre (38,000-square-mile) swathe of ocean. Nairobi has granted exploration permits to Italian energy giant ENI but the Somalis are contesting the move.

For Kenya, redefining the border along Somalia’s claim would also cut into fertile fishing grounds, particularly around the Lamu archipelago.

Talks fail

The two countries agreed in 2009 to settle their dispute through bilateral negotiations.

Two meetings were held in 2014, but little progress made. A third round that same year fell through when the Kenyan delegation failed to show up without informing their counterparts, later citing security concerns.

Somalia referred the matter to the ICJ in August 2014, citing a collapse in diplomatic efforts to solve the spat.

Kenya challenged the ICJ’s authority to rule, arguing that arbitration could only take place once the negotiation process was complete.

The ICJ asserted jurisdiction in February 2017. Hearings were scheduled for September 2019 but postponed three times before being set for March 2021.

Kenya then announced it would not participate in the hearings, and just days before the ICJ verdict the foreign ministry said it did not recognise the tribunal’s “compulsory jurisdiction.”

Diplomatic powderkeg

The dispute has added to ructions in ties between the neighbours.

Kenya recalled its ambassador in Mogadishu in early 2019 after accusing Somalia of auctioning off oil and gas blocks in the contested area.

It described the move as an “illegal grab” at resources, and reminded Somalia of Kenya’s help in the battle against Al-Shabaab jihadists.

Kenya is a major contributor of troops to AMISOM, an African Union military operation against the Al-Qaeda-linked fighters waging a violent insurgency across Somalia.

Mogadishu rejected suggestions that it had auctioned off permits, pledging not to do so until the ICJ had delivered its ruling.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, and his Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta met in November 2019 and agreed to “normalise” relations.

But Somalia then severed ties in December 2020 after Kenya hosted the leadership of Somaliland, a breakaway state not recognised by Mogadishu.

They agreed to reset relations when Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble held talks with Kenyatta in August 2021.

 

AFP