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Petition to bar Kenya from ICJ maritime dispute with Somalia crumbles in court

By Abuga Makori in Nairobi , Garowe Online

NAIROBI, Kenya - A court sitting in Nairobi has dismissed a petition seeking to compel Kenya to withdraw from the maritime case at ICJ with Somalia.

Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, at least 20 Kenyans had moved to court seeking orders to bar Kenya from participating in the process.

In the petition, they argued, Kenya risked ceding territorial integrity to Somalia through the "politically instigated" process, adding that "it's unattainable".

The International Court of Justice, they added, may not be able to solve the political aspects surrounding the entire dispute.

The petition cannot be solved constitutionally

But Justices Kanyi Kimondo, Robert Limo and Anthony Mrima on Friday dismissed the petition, citing "inevitable technicalities"

The petition, they ruled, can be effectively resolved through diplomatic, legislative, policy and other executive interventions, rather than by a constitutional decision.

The ruling stated, however, that, "the AG's participation in the proceedings will accord an opportunity to demonstrate to the court Kenya's constitutional impediments in implementation of the decision in the event the dispute is decided in favor of Somalia."

Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and the Solicitor General Ken Ogeto is leading the legal team defending Kenya's position in the matter.

Kenya had opposed the petition

Paul Nyamodi, the government lawyer in the petition, had last year asked the court to dismiss it because "it was based on the assumption that ruling will favor Somalia".

He said Kenya has taken steps calculated at ensuring the best interest of its citizens, territorial integrity and independence, is not compromised.

Mr. Nyamodi added that the petitioners have not shown any filing before the ICJ, which is unconstitutional.

“Kenya will participate responsibly before the ICJ. The petition is not merited because it invites the court to agree with the assumptions of the petitioners,” he argued.

ICJ to hear the case in June

In what almost strained diplomatic relations between the two nations, Somalia had auctioned oil deposits along the Indian Ocean maritime, infuriating Nairobi in return.

For almost a month, Kenya called shots, recalling ambassador Lucas Tumbo from Mogadishu, a move that temporarily caused tensions.

ICJ has slated June 2020 for hearings after postponing the case twice upon Kenya's request. Nairobi had changed her legal team.

Both Somalia and Kenya are optimistic of victory in court, even though it risks deteriorating mutual relations and cooperation.

Attempts to have out of court settlement

African Union's attempts to push for out of court settlement flopped, although Nairobi is still keen to have the matter withdrawn.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohamed Farmajo met in Nairobi last November and agreed to normalize the relationship between the two nations, local media reported.

And as a result, direct flights to Mogadishu were restored, with Farmajo insisting that "Somalia is optimistic of ICJ as an arbiter".

Somalia is keen to promote oil extraction and has since given ExxonMobil and Shell a viable contract to explore her showings, Reuters reported.

But the $1.7 leasing of oil deposits do not affect the disputed maritime boundary with Kenya, state-owned SONNA said.


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