LEADER

Time to compromise on disputed maritime area

In Summary

• There is no clear right and wrong in the dispute over the Kenya-Somalia maritime border

• A possible compromise would be to share resources 50-50 in the disputed area

Somali President Mohamed Farmajo, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after a meeting at State House Nairobi on March 6, 2019 to discuss extensively on the source of the Kenya-Somalia border dispute.
Somali President Mohamed Farmajo, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after a meeting at State House Nairobi on March 6, 2019 to discuss extensively on the source of the Kenya-Somalia border dispute.
Image: PSCU

There is an escalating war of words with Somalia over the disputed maritime block.

Last week Somalia said its parliament would vote to remove the KDF from Somalia if Kenya deployed its navy to the maritime area. Yesterday government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said Kenya would defend itself against any form of aggression (see P11).

Kenya is incensed that Somalia took the dispute to the International Court of Justice in the Hague without first seeking mediation through the AU or Igad. 

 

There is no clear right and wrong in this case. In maritime law, sea boundaries are normally drawn perpendicular to the coast, as Somalia is demanding. But in the colonial period, a border parallel to the latitude was assumed but never codified.

In 2014 Somalia took the case to the ICJ and the hearing starts in September, hence the heightened tension.

The danger of a war of words is that it can lead to an actual war. Both sides should compromise, perhaps by sharing the resources 50-50 in the disputed maritime area. That would be a win-win as all exploration there is halted at the moment.

Quote of the day: "It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk."

Bertolt Brecht
The German playwright died on August 14, 1956