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Pressure mounts on Farmajo to issue statement on postponement of Kenya-Somalia maritime dispute

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo should explain to Somalis about the unprecedented delay of the maritime dispute with Kenya at The Hague, a top opposition leader has said, adding that the FGS is operating "opaquely" contrary to the law.

In an interview with Universal TV on Monday, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, who is the leader of the Wadajir party, wondered why the maritime dispute has taken long to take off, adding that the current regime should give explanations.

Last month, the International Court of Justice postponed the case for the third time, citing the current Coronavirus pandemic, which has continued to wreak havoc globally. The case, which was scheduled to take off this month, will now be heard on March 2022, ICJ said.

But Warsame said the case is surrounded with a lot of uncertainty, adding that the government should urgently clarify the matter. He insisted that the public deserves to know why the case is taking longer than initially anticipated.

“In 2009we prevented Kenya from taking our continental shelf uncontested. After negotiations failed, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud took the case to the ICJ. Under President Farmajo’s watch, the case was delayed three times,” said the opposition leader, adding that lack of clarity is causing confusion.

Somalia moved to ICJ in 2014 when Kenya refused to give chance to dialogue. The contested areas are rich in oil deposits along the Indian Ocean coastline, and Kenya has traditionally maintained that the territory remains hers, a move that rattled Mogadishu.

In September last year, Kenya requested a postponement which was guaranteed, arguing that its legal panel had been reconstituted. In November, the ICJ postponed the case to June 2020 after requests by Kenya, but the anticipated sittings were canceled to next year.

And Warsame wondered why Somalia's case was postponed based on the current Coronavirus pandemic yet there were two other cases that are currently at the court. The two cases are being done through virtual submissions.

“But there is another case between two other countries at the court right now. That means the delay had nothing to do with coronavirus. No one believed I was protecting Somalia’s rights," said Warsame in reference to Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled's assertions.

"A statement is not enough. President Farmajo, as the leader of the country, must talk to the nation and explain to us why the case has been delayed for the third time under his watch,” he added.

Prior to postponement, Somalia Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled had insisted that "we cannot take any of these applications, the cases must proceed as scheduled. We are ready to adopt the virtual proceedings".

But in an interview with the BBC a fortnight ago, the firebrand politician appeared to concede the decision, adding that "as FGS we do not agree with the directive but we shall adhere to the request made by Kenya".

Sources had told Garowe Online that Kenya is pushing for out of court settlement, a move which FGS is still non-committal to. There were such attempts before by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who tried to use the African Union as a mediator.

The case has strained relations between the two nations, and it triggered recalling of respective envoys last year before the matter was solved. The two nations agreed to normalize their relationship in November when Farmajo visited Nairobi for bilateral talks.


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