Kenya withdraws from maritime case with Somalia ahead of judgment
NAIROBI, Kenya - Kenya has withdrawn from the maritime case with Somalia citing lack of "jurisdiction" by the International Court of Justice [ICJ] to handle such matters, adding that territorial integrity of a country cannot be handled by the court.
The ICJ issued a notice recently notifying both parties that the judgment will be delivered on October 12, just five months after a rigorous hearing which was concluded in March after both parties gave out their submissions.
In a statement, Kenya said the “judgment will be the culmination of a flawed judicial process”. Kenya alleged “bias” and “unsuitability” at ICJ to resolve the case despite the court ruling that it has the authority to adjudicate the case.
In March, did not participate the hearing at ICJ citing a mix of reasons including the COVID-19 pandemic which it said made it hard to prepare. But ICJ argued it has postponed the hearing on multiple occasions upon Kenya’s request and ended giving Nairobi an option to participate via virtual streaming.
During the hearing in March 2021, Somalia argued Kenya is re-writing history, exploiting Somalia’s incapacity to protect its maritime resources. Lawyers argued Kenya wants charity in claiming a portion of Somalia’s territorial waters.
Somalia lawyers said at the time, a well was drilled on Somalia side of the equidistance line; urged Kenya to stop unauthorized exploratory activity in Somalia’s continental shelf. Lawyers said Kenya's activities are a “deliberate attempt to deprive Somalia of its sovereign right.”
On Friday, Kenya's Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau also said the country will not recognize the ICJ judgment in the ongoing Maritime case with Somalia, arguing that the court lacks jurisdiction to determine the dispute.
The two neighboring countries are in deadlock over the ownership of more than 100,000 square km of Indian Ocean oil and gas-rich waters. The case was first lodged during the reign of former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Somalia wants the equidistance line should be the basis for Somalia-Kenya maritime boundary line. Kenya wants the border to be parallel to the line of latitude and has been accusing Somalia of plotting to auction the oil deposits to foreign nations without her consent.
The two nations recently restored their relationship which had significantly fallen over the border dispute among other topical issues. Qatar was instrumental in pushing for the restoration of ties between Nairobi and Mogadishu.