Somalia: Ex-president blames FGS for delay of maritime dispute case against Kenya
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Federal Government of Somalia should take the blame for the persistent delay of the maritime dispute with Kenya at the International Court of Justice, former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has said, just hours after The Hague-based court postponed the case.
Four over four years, the two neighbors have been wrangling over a long stretch of the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be rich in oil blocks, that are now claimed by both parties, a move which has partly strained their relationship.
On Tuesday, the ICJ postponed the case for the third time in eight months in favor of Kenya, a move now which has irked Mohamud, whose administration instigated the case at The Hague after talks with Kenya crumbled sometimes back in 2015.
In a press conference, Mohamud blamed FGS for the unprecedented delay, arguing that the Mogadishu administration had done little to push the case to its conclusion, despite having been in court for almost five years now.
The Somalia administration, he noted, has been "lying" to the public about the status of the case. According to him, the delay is only considered when two parties reach a consensus, a total contrast to the current scenario at The Hague.
“The maritime Indian Ocean maritime dispute case is at the stage where we left it four years ago. The hearing of the case was delayed three times," noted the former president, who lost to Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo in 2017 in a closely contested poll.
"Every time there was a delay, the government comes and says they were opposed to the delay but it has never shared with the public any evidence on that,” Sheikh Mohamud added while accusing the administration of being "mean" with the information.
He called for the expeditious conclusion of the case arguing that it's only through the court mechanism that the country can have hopes in getting "fair justice". FGS, he added, "has failed to protect the territorial integrity of Somalia in accordance with the constitution".
Just after the delay was announced, Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled accused the court of dragging the case but added that "we shall abide by what they want to be done even though we don't agree with them".
Reports from the Netherlands indicate that the case was postponed after the court evaluated a request made by Kenya due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In the application dated April 23, Nairobi argued that "the current plague cannot allow us to have a robust court battle" over the matter.
The case will now be heard from March 15th to 19th 2021. Initially, the court postponed the case from September to November last year before pushing the matter to June 2020 after Kenya cited numerous challenges among them the composition of its legal team.
Although Nairobi is keen to deliver submissions over the matter, there have been separate campaigns to push for an out of court settlement with Somalia, a move which Mogadishu administration is, however, not ready to accommodate.
In previous outings, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya has openly called for "dialogue" to end emerging issues with "our neighbors" but his calls are yet to succeed. He made such proposals when Farmajo visited Nairobi in November 2019.
The contested segments are said to be rich in oil blocks and Kenya suspects that Somalia auctioned sections of it to highest bidders.
While acknowledging leasing of oil deposits, the country's Natural Resources minister Ahmed Mohamed recently said the auctioned fields are far from the contested coastline.