Farmaajo dashes Kenya’s hopes for negotiations over maritime dispute

Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo on Thursday dashed Kenya’s hopes of an out of court settlement of the Indian Ocean maritime dispute.

Addressing the 74th UN General Assembly Debate in New York, Farmaajo said the maritime dispute case will be left to the International Court of Justice, a blow to Kenya that has been pushing for political negotiations.

“We agreed the matter will be resolved by the International Court of Justice. Somalia is committed to maintaining a good relationship with Kenya. The Somali community continues to invest in the country of Kenya which indeed contributes to its growth and prosperity,” Farmaajo said.

Farmaajo met with President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday in a meeting chaired by Egypt President Fattah Al Sisi, who is also the AU chairman, and agreed to form a Kenya-Somalia Committee, which would “immediately start working towards adopting measures for restoring confidence and resolving all problems so as to normalize bilateral relations”.

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.

But while Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the meeting, saying it is the step in the right direction, Director of Communications, the Somalia Presidency Abdinur Mohamed on Wednesday, said Somalia and Kenya had agreed to work towards normalising relations without any implications for the maritime case at the ICJ, “which will take its full course after Egyptian President HE Abdelfatah Al Sisi convened a tripartite meeting on the margins of UNGA.”

Kenya wants the maritime border to run along parallel latitude southeast of Kiunga, while Somalia wants a diagonal line down the Kenyan Coast. This threatens to make Kenya a landlocked country, and risks losing 42 per cent of its territory.

The hearings will be held between November 4 and 8 though Kenya had sought a 12-month postponement.

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