Egypt President Al Sisi mediates between Kenya, Somalia over maritime dispute

A Kenyan-Somali committee to negotiate the maritime border dispute will be formed following a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo in New York on Tuesday.

The committee will immediately start working towards “adopting measures for restoring confidence and resolving all problems so as to normalize bilateral relations”.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi chaired the trilateral talks with Farmaajo and Kenyatta on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in an attempt to cool down escalating tensions over border Indian ocean demarcations between the two countries. Al-Sisi is the current chair of the Africa Union. While Kenya has sought to have the case before the International Court of Justice resolved out of court, Somalia has maintained that the case goes to full hearing.ICJ had already set November 8 for the date of the commencement of the case following Kenya’s request that the matter be deferred, in a move that was seen to be tactical to force negotiations.

AU has in the recent past tried to get what it termed as an African solution to African problem by seeking mediation between the two countries, and the Commission of the African Union had invited the two parties to a briefing on the row, which Somalia declined and instead expressed confidence in the ICJ’s ability to deliver a fair ruling. Kenya and Somalia agreed to restore normal diplomatic relations as they seek a long-lasting solution. Although the missions were restored, there have been actions such as flight restrictions by both countries pointing to strained ties.

Al-Sisi urged the two states to iron out their differences and “preserve their fraternal and cordial relationship”, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said.

Uhuru nad Farmaajo thanked Al-Sisi for answering their request to hold the trilateral summit, saying “this reflects Egypt’s sincere intentions towards serving the interests of their countries and peoples and boosting joint action to achieve regional peace, stability and development”.

This could be a result of the lobbying by Kenya’s Foreign Affairs ministry to push for negotiations.

As soon as Al-Sisi took over the chairmanship of the AU in February, Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma delivered a special message from President Kenyatta in March and held talks with her Egyptian counterpart Shoukry Sameh in March.

Among other issues, the two discussed “regional and international security and Egypt’s role as chair of the African Union”.

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