Ethiopia on Tuesday evening jumped into the fray by sending emissaries to Kenya and Somalia to help sort the matter.
Africa Industry

Pressure mounts on Somalia and Kenya to sort maritime dispute out of court

Somalia seems to be succumbing to pressure in the battle over their maritime border dispute with Kenya.

Fresh information has it that Somalia had ceded ground on the dispute by giving room for out of court settlement after a meeting brokered between the Mogadishu representatives and a team from Kenya by the United States government.

While Somalia government came out strongly to dispute there was ever a meeting in New York, subsequent efforts seem to be confirming there are efforts to sort the impasse away from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to sort the fragile diplomatic ties in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia on Tuesday evening jumped into the fray by sending emissaries to Kenya and Somalia to help sort the matter.

Sources indicate Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo will meet with Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta on July 13 in Addis Ababa to discuss the matter.

Senior Somali government officials confirmed Abiy had been working behind the scenes to broker a truce amid pressure from key international players like the United States and the United Kingdom for a truce.

But Somalia has maintained there was no truce yet.

“We unequivocally deny a change of the position of the Federal Government of Somalia on the ongoing case at ICJ,” Somali government stated as they described the reports as malicious and fake propaganda.

There was no official communication from Kenya and Somali governments of any meeting held in the United States though there has been mounting diplomatic pressure for the two countries to accept an out-of-court settlement, a position that Nairobi prefers.

The regional body IGAD and its partners fear the maritime dispute could undermine cooperation in the fight against terrorism and sea piracy in the Horn of Africa.

The dispute between Kenya and Somalia arose from a 2014 case in which Mogadishu sued Nairobi, seeking to redraw the sea boundary from the current eastwards extension of the land border, to a diagonal one towards the south east.
In 2009, Kenya and Somalia technocrats drew a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which the Somali Parliament rejected, prompting Mogadishu to file the case at ICJ.

The ICJ rule the MoU was a valid bilateral agreement but went ahead to admit the case for hearing on the grounds that alternative means had not been exhausted.

Kenya Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma recently told an audience in London that Somalia was being pushed by foreign commercial interests.

“We believe this issue is the surest demonstration of the effects of western commercial interests in the context of a fragile country,” she said during her lecture at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a defence policy think-tank.

She said such interests would only delay the settlement of the case.

Norway has been dragged into the issue with Kenya expressing her unhappiness with the involvement of a Norwegian firm in ‘redrawing’ of its map. Norwegian oil firm DNO has been contracted to search for oil in the disputed area.

Kenya has protested to Norwegian government for allowing its firm to be used in the demarcation.

By Odindo Ayieko