- Kenya will lose substantial territory should ICJ rule in favour of Somalia
- MPs say the military option will become inevitable should diplomacy fail
A showdown looms between Kenya and Somalia over the disputed maritime border after MPS proposed military deployment to the contested area.
In a joint motion, Leader of Majority Aden Duale and his Minority counterpart John Mbadi said Kenya Defence Forces should protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the republic.
The motion sponsored by both sides of the political divide is the clearest signal that Kenya is not taking the row lightly, including the possibility of a war with Somalia.
However, the MPs said military deployment should be a last resort in the event that all dispute resolution mechanisms by African Union, Intergovernmental Authority for Development and East African Community are exhausted.
The thinking in Parliament is that diplomacy be applied as the preferred option as a first step to ending the row, failure to which the military option would be inevitable.
Lawmakers cautioned that with the expected hearing and determination of the dispute at the International Court of Justice, Kenya may find itself in a precarious position.
Duale and Mbadi said that the country’s boundaries must be protected by any lawful and constitutional means.
The House leaders said Somalia has sought measures against Kenya for unlawful operations in the maritime territory.
Duale warned that the possible delimitation of the maritime boundary on the basis of the equidistant principle sought by Somalia would have the effect of extending Somali territory by up to 50 miles from Kenya’s tourism resorts.
“This, therefore, is threatening to expose Kenya, especially Lamu, to further terrorist attacks by al Shabaab and long-term insecurity,” the lawmaker said.
Kenya stands to lose 26 per cent of its exclusive economic zone and 85 per cent of the continental shelf as well as access to international waters should ICJ rule in favour of Somalia.
The ICJ will hold public hearings on the border dispute from September 9 to September 13.
Kenya and Somalia have been embroiled in a tussle over the territory since 2014 when the latter laid claim to the part of the Indian Ocean.
Parliament further wants the government to petition the United Nations to limit the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the maritime boundary conflict.
The alarm is that the neighbouring nation has extended the border beyond the allowable 200 nautical miles, delimiting the territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
Last November, Somalia sought to auction oil blocks 230,231, 232, and 233 during the Africa oil week in Cape Town, South Africa, a move that sent alarm bells to the Kenyan state.
More worrying at the moment is that Somalia is anticipating the signing of the final production sharing agreements for the oil blocks on December 9.
The move could see the neighbouring country start extracting oil at the blocs effective January 1, 2020, as revealed by Somalia in the plan which featured in the oil and gas conference in London hosted by Somalia in February.
At the conference, Somalia said that it was in the process of mapping its offshore oil blocks and preparing to offer the blocks for auction.
Duale and Mbadi said that unless Kenyans resolve, by way of referendum, the country’s territories cannot be altered as spelled in the Constitution and the Treaty Making and Ratification Act.
Kenya complains that Somalia had not raised any objection to the boundary as established until 2014 when it claimed the section by filing a case at the ICJ.
Duale faulted the move, saying the case was taken there without giving an opportunity to negotiated settlement or any other alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
He castigated Somalia for ignoring negotiation as provided for under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to which both nations are signatory.