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UN Report: How Kenya-Somalia sea row will distabilise Mogadishu

By East Africa correspondent , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia will have negative ripple effects on the Federal Government of Somalia, a report by UN Panel of Experts has warned.

While the row has existed for a couple of years, it only escalated in March 2019 when the Federal Government of
Somalia, in partnership with Spectrum Geo (now TGS), a seismic oil data company, hosted a petroleum conference in London.

The conference was aimed to present the results of the seismic study completed offshore Somalia in 2016, a move that irked Nairobi forcing her to temporarily evict Somalia ambassador.

Somalia first reported Kenya to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2014, after Nairobi snubbed several negotiations brokered by Mogadishu.

The panel of experts, however, insists that the conference in London that provoked Kenya had nothing to do with the offshore oil deposits along the Indian Ocean

"The conference, however, focused on the presentation of data unrelated to the disputed area, and no auctions or
bidding processes related to oil blocks occurred," reads the report.

UN experts warned that the sea row could destabilize Somalia if not carefully handled, arguing that the feud could pave way for increased Al-Shabaab attacks on the FGS.

Further, the experts say, the dispute could fuel tensions within AMISOM troops, in which Kenya is one of the contributors. Kenya deployed around 4,000 KDF troops in Somalia.

"The ongoing maritime dispute has fuelled tensions between Kenya and the Federal Government of Somalia, creating a potential space for Al-Shabaab to exploit, as well as possible divisions between Kenya and other AMISOM troop-contributing countries," reads the report.

KDF troops are mainly stationed at Jubaland, a state which Al-Shabaab militants have for years dominated. Since 2012, the Kenyan troops have managed to liberate many towns among them Kismayo, suffering casualties in the process.

The Positive relations between the two countries, the report says, are crucial to regional security, particularly in relation to Al-Shabaab operations across their shared border.

Kenya is also involved in the training of Somalia National Army, a move that could be abandoned altogether should the sea row escalate in the coming days.

International Court of Justice postponed the case to June 2020 following the request by Kenya but warned against further delays.

While President Uhuru Kenyatta is keen to have the matter solved through negotiations, his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmajo has often insisted that 'he is comfortable with ICJ'.

Kenya's Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Kamau Macharia recently said 'Kenya doesn't have a problem with Somalia people but it's leadership'.

Farmajo is in Nairobi for a United Nations Population Development conference. In June, he snubbed Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on his way from South Africa due to the sea row.

Somalia has already signed a deal with Shell and Exxon Mobil worth $1.7 million which will allow the two companies to extract oil for 30 years. Petroleum minister Abdirashid Mohamed Ahmed insisted that the blocks in question are not disputed by Kenya.


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