Kenya disowns sea row dispute with Somalia, blames Farmajo for standoff
NAIROBI, KENYA - Diplomatic ties between Kenya and Somalia could deteriorate in the coming days even before the commencement of the Indian Ocean border dispute case at the International Court of Justice [ICJ], Garowe Online reports.
The Hague-based court postponed the case to June 2020 following an application by Kenya. The case had been scheduled for November this year.
But Kenya has termed the dispute 'non-existent', blaming Somalia President Mohamed Farmajo of fueling the rift 'for no good reason'.
At the United Nations General Assembly in September, Farmajo rejected out of court settlement suggestion by his counterpart Uhuru Kenyatta, saying that 'Somalia is comfortable with ICJ'.
"Our overall relations are excellent. Our maritime boundaries have never been delimiting. It's our disagreement between the two sister states," he said.
"We are happy that the ICJ found that it has jurisdictions to hear the case and it has scheduled it for November. Somalia as a member of the UN, is keen to see this court settlement to its end."
In an interview on Wednesday at Citizen TV, Kenya's Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Kamau Macharia said the country 'does not have issues with Somali people but with the administration'.
He said the Mogadishu administration has failed to appreciate 'mutual aspirations' between the two countries, terming Farmajo's approach as 'unwarranted'.
"The dispute is orchestrated by the Somalia leadership which has failed fundamentally to appreciate what we are aspiring together. Kenya has invested a lot in Somalia. The locals are not against us," Kamau said.
According to him, Kenya preferred dialogue but Somalia 'decided to move to The Hague without exhausting internal mechanisms'.
The former Kenyan permanent representative to the UN further maintained that the dispute is imaginary, adding that it should have not emerged at all.
"We were almost solving the issue in 2014 but they decided to go to the Hague before we exhausted internal mechanisms. They should have engaged us first because the dispute doesn't exist," he added.
But despite the standoff, Macharia added, Kenya will continue lobbying for dialogue with Mogadishu. He said the 'misunderstanding' will not affect peaceful coexistence among Kenya and Somalia citizens.
Terming the matter 'mere administrative' differences, Ambassador Kamau further claimed that Kenya detected the possibility of a prejudicial ruling by the court, thus the zeal to have negotiations.
"We detected some prejudice in the court but we shall continue persuading Somalia to engage us and we shall find a solution very soon."
Regarding the outcome of the case at ICJ, Macharia said 'it will take a long time but Kenya will analyze the ruling and make interpretation at the right time".
The dispute escalated in March this year when Somalia reportedly auctioned controversial oil deposits to foreign countries without Kenya's knowledge.
For a moment, Kenya recalled her ambassador to Somalia. However, the dispute was handled as the two nations struggled to normalize relations.
Kamau asked Farmajo's administration to 'stop being rigid'. According to him, the recent trip by Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary Ababu Namwamba to Mogadishu is an indication of Kenya's commitment to work with Somalia.
Reporting by Abuga Makori in Nairobi; Editing by Omar Nor