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Kenya maintains ground on border row with Somalia ahead of ICJ ruling

Kenya to know her fate on maritime border row with Somalia today

Kenya has maintained ground that it won’t be subjected to international litigation without consent in the future ahead of the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the maritime border dispute with Somalia.

The ICJ is expected to deliver the judgement on October 12, 2021 seven months after Kenya pulled out of the case.

Kenya withdrew from the set date of hearing which was March 15, 2021 after having requested for the fourth time an extension of the hearing.

Both countries are disputing 30,000 square nautical miles of territory in the Indian Ocean, with prospects of huge oil and gas deposits.

While affirming Kenya’s withdrawal from the ICJ, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary  Macharia Kamau said Friday the impending judgment was the culmination of a flawed process.

“For these reasons, and in addition to withdrawing its participation from the current case, Kenya, on the 24th September, 2021, also joined many other members of the United Nations in withdrawing its recognition of the Court’s compulsory jurisdiction. As a sovereign nation, Kenya shall no longer be subjected to an international court or tribunal without its express consent,” said Kamau.

The PS said the decision by Somalia to file a case against Kenya and ICJ move to accept it demonstrates new strategies countries are using to invade other territories.

“It is important for every Kenyan to understand that threats to territorial integrity are now no longer necessarily overt and direct. The filing of a case against Kenya at the Court, and the Court’s assumption of jurisdiction where it had none, are demonstrative of new tactics of using pseudo-judicial processes to undermine territorial integrity,” the PS said.

Kamau added that whatever the decision, Tuesday’s judgement will have profound security, political, social and economic ramifications in the region and beyond.

He further said that the decision will be unfortunate in a region that is already struggling with terrorism, instability and conflict.

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“The Government of Kenya recognizes and has consistently indicated as much, that the Judgement of the Court – whichever way – will have profound security, political, social and economic ramifications in the region and beyond. This will, undoubtedly, be unfortunate in a region that is already under the torment of terrorism, instability and conflict.”

He however urged Kenyans to remain calm saying the government was seized of the matter.

“While the Government recognizes the potential of these ramifications, every Kenyan is to be assured that the Government is fully seized of this matter. Kenyans are therefore called upon to remain calm before, during and after the delivery of the Judgment,” Amb Kamau sated.

The point of disagreement between Kenya and Somalia has the nature of the line of the maritime boundary.

While the North of Africa country asserts a centre line from the Kenya/Somalia land boundary terminus, Kenya has maintained her stand on a straight line.

The disputed area is believed to be rich in oil and gas, with both countries accusing each other of auctioning off blocks even as the case is in court.The ICJ in 2019 set public hearings for between September 9 and September 14 of that year but would later push the start date to November 4 after granting Kenya’s request of more time to recruit a new legal team.

In June last year, Kenya then requested another postponement, this time citing the pandemic.

The United Nations (U.N) delayed the hearing till March 2021.

On July 22 this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta reiterated Kenya’s firm ground never to surrender any part of her territory to anyone.

He said Kenya will continue to guard its borders and cautioned unnamed external forces against disrespecting the country’s territorial integrity.

“We will not accept anyone claiming ownership of any part of our land. Just as we have respected boundaries of other countries, we expect that our borders and land are equally respected,” said the President.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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