Kenya now wants Somalia maritime border dispute case postponed

Kenya has requested the International Court of Justice to postpone the maritime border case a week to its hearing over poor preparations.

Attorney General Paul Kihara says Nairobi needs more time to recruit a new defence team.

The hearing was scheduled to be heard from September 9-13 at the ICJ in The Hague, Netherlands.

” We, however, would like to inform that due to exceptional circumstances occasioned by the need to recruit a new defence team, Kenya has sought the matter postponed,” the AG’s office said.

“The Rules of the court allow for the postponement of the hearing of the case to afford the parties an opportunity to be represented.”

Two weeks ago, Somalia rejected the Commission of the African Union invitation to a briefing on the row and instead expressed confidence in the ICJ’s ability to deliver a fair ruling.

Kenya has been pushing to have the row solved through negotiations rather than through the court, a position that has the support of powerful states such as the US.

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.

Under Article 54 of the Rules of the Court, parties to a case may request the bench to alter the date fixed by the Court, “should occasion arise” to either delay the public oral sessions or stop those already going on until a later date.

Ordinarily, such a request will also require the say of the other party.

In the preliminary round in which Kenya lost its objection to the Court’s jurisdiction, Nairobi was represented by a team of foreign lawyers hired by then Attorney General Githu Muigai.

They included Prof Payam Akhavan from the US, Prof Vaughan Lowe QC from the UK, Prof Alan Boyle (British), Prof Mathias Forteau (French), Mr Karim Khan (British) and Ms Amy Sanders (British).

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