It is now official that Kenya and Somalia are headed for a legal fight at the International Court of Justice over the maritime delimitation of the Indian Ocean. Somalia wants the ocean’s boundaries redrawn, making Kenya a landlocked state and claiming at least five oil-rich blocks.
The court has scheduled the first public hearings on the disputed huge swathe of maritime territory considered to be rich in oil deposits and fish stocks.
In a press release, the court said the preliminary objections raised by Kenya will be presented during the four-day hearings. The public hearings are set for September 19-23 at the Peace Palace in The Hague – the seat of the court. According to the court schedule, Kenya will be the first to make her oral arguments on Monday 19 and again on Thursday while Somalia will present on Tuesday and Friday.
Last year, Kenya filed preliminary objections to the suit and said there exists an agreement between the two countries to progressively solve the matter through negotiations. “Litigating this complex issue before the court is clearly contrary to the 2009 MoU. Somalia’s case is invalid and Kenya is confident that the court will agree with its submissions,” Attorney General Githu Muigai said.
The AG warned the case could jeopardise Kenya’s support for Somalia against al Shabaab. Already, President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the closure of the Dadaab refugee camp – home to nearly 350,000 Somali refugees.
In its application, Somalia contends that both states “disagree about the location of the maritime boundary in the area where their maritime entitlements overlap”. The war-torn country claims diplomatic negotiations have been exhausted and still there is no solution to the deadlock.