Maritime case separate from normalization of diplomatic relations, says deputy PM
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The normalization of ties between Nairobi and Mogadishu will not have any significant impact in the case between Kenya and Somalia over the Indian Ocean maritime border, it has now emerged, something which could prompt an interesting scenario in the coming days.
Mahdi Gulaid, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia, said Mogadishu is keenly waiting for the outcome of the case at the International Court of Justice [ICJ] at The Hague, whose date is yet to be determined.
Gulaid, a close ally of Farmajo, said the normalization of ties between the two nations should be treated as a "separate entity" from the Indian Ocean maritime border case, in what could be seen as a disclaimer.
"The maritime dispute will be finalized by the ICJ following oral hearing was completed on March 15-18 this year. We are awaiting fair judgment. Diplomatic relations between the two countries is a separate issue," said Mahdi Gulaid, who has been vocal on the case.
Somalia and Kenya are wrangling over the oil-rich Indian Ocean maritime border, accusing Kenya of grabbing some of the oil deposits. As a result, the two nations faced off each other in March, after a series of postponements engineered by Kenya.
But sources privy to the matter says Kenya was keen for an out-of-court settlement, a move which was declined by Somalia. However, after the hearings, Kenya said that "we shall be contented with the outcome, there is nothing much to worry about".
On Thursday, Somalia said it was normalizing ties with Kenya which it had severed in December last year, adding that "we thank Qatar for their timely intervention". Mogadishu further noted that "we are ready to cooperate".
In a rejoinder, Kenya also welcomed the move, saying that "we shall work together with Somalia to improve our trade, transportation, and even people-to-people relationships". It also hailed Emir Sheikh Tamim of Qatar for "acting swiftly to normalize the ties".
Qatar, which is fairly divisive in Somalia, dispatched Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, a special envoy to Somalia and Kenya early this week before the grand announcement of Thursday. Doha has often denied allegations of meddling in Somalia's internal affairs.
Somalia had accused Kenya of "meddling in our local affairs" citing the close relationship between Nairobi and Jubaland, a state which has traditionally questioned the competence of Farmajo. However, a committee from Djibouti dispatched by IGAD exonerated Kenya from any wrongdoing.
And so severe were the ties that Somalia had even banned the importation of Khat from Kenya, leading to paralysis in the East Africa nation. As part of reprisals, Kenya also showcased plans to close Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, which host thousands of Somalis.