We have nothing to lose in ICJ ruling against us, Kenya tells Somalia

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NAIROBI, Kenya - Kenya has accused Somalia of being "excited" on the ruling that denied her much-wanted extension on the hearing of the maritime border case along the Indian Ocean, arguing that "we have nothing to lose but everything to gain" by pretesting the start of the case at the Hague.

The two countries are set for a showdown in coming weeks at the Hague after the International Court of Justice [ICJ] turned down Kenya's quest to have the case delayed a little bit longer for logistical reasons. The case is set to start on March 15.

Nairobi had among others, called for the fourth postponement, arguing that the current prevailing conditions of COVID-19 would make it impossible to have a fair hearing. Further, the country had cited the loss of a map as one of the other prevailing conditions, but the request was turned down.

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Ambassador Kamau Macharia defended the initial quest to postpone the case in 2019 and 2020, adding that the country was ready to pursue the case had it not been the Covid-19 pandemic that struck in March last year.

"The first postponement of the ICJ case in 2019 was a welcome and rational decision. It facilitated enabling of proper international jurisprudence to be executed and managed. But no one anticipated the Covid pandemic and its consequences, ergo the second request for postponement," he noted.

Kenya, he added, was moved by the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic is still ravaging across the world, faulting the decision by ICJ to postpone the case. He, however, said the country will face Somalia in court in whatever circumstances.

"There is something silly about the frenzied reaction in some quarters about this decision. Kenya had nothing to lose and everything to gain by protesting the start date at the ICJ. It was and remains the responsible thing to have done. The Covid pandemic cannot be wished away," he noted.

"The protest recognized time allocated to set up legal teams &prepare case was inconsistent with the global reality of Covid pandemic. That the court has failed to appreciate this does not change the facts. Now all matters contained in the submissions will be material to the case."

Initially, Kenya and Somalia were seeking out of court settlement but Nairobi is said to have engaged in "delay tactics" forcing Somalia to move to court. Somalia insists that most of the area under dispute belongs to her jurisdictions, a claim which Kenya disputes.

Somalia has insisted that the case cannot be withdrawn, arguing that "justice can only be achieved at the Hague". In 2019, a meeting by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in Nairobi did not yield much thus the ongoing case in the Hague.

GAROWE ONLINE

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