Somalia, Kenya maritime case hearing starts in September

Africa
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma. Kenya and Somalia are wrangling over territorial waters rich in hydrocarbons. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

NAIROBI, Kenya - The hearing of the maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia will start on September 9 and run through to September 13 at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, Netherlands.

The court Tuesday released a schedule of the trial on a day the Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma appeared before the National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations committee to update Parliament on the status of the dispute.

DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS

However, Juma requested that the briefing be held in camera because of the sensitivity of the issue that has strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Committee chairman Katoo ole Metito ordered the media out of the room after the CS convinced his team that she had a meeting with the editors, where she provided all the necessary information to the media.

“When we shared our brief with the media MPs were not there and it may wish that this session is conducted in camera because it is a sensitive matter,” Ms Juma said.

Late Tuesday evening, the Hague-based court released a dispatch indicating a schedule of the hearing in the case in which Mogadishu is seeking to claw back authority over Somalia's territorial waters, including the area bordering Kenya that is potentially rich in oil and gas deposits.

Somalia took the dispute to the United Nations' top court in August 2014, accusing Kenya of having annexed part of its maritime territory.

RESOLVE DISPUTE

However, Kenya has disputed the case, saying that its neighbour acted in bad faith and disregarded the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the countries and which should have taken precedence before the matter was filed at the ICJ.

The MoU, signed in 2009, when Mr Moses Wetangula served as Foreign minister, agreed on mechanisms for the two countries to resolve disputes between them if and when they arose.

Kenya also believes its neighbour has no goodwill to resolve the issues after Somalia disregarded the Igad and African Union disputes resolutions frameworks that both have signed.

In the schedule released yesterday, Somalia will prosecute its case on the first day, September 9, through oral submissions between 10 am and 1 pm, then 3 pm to 4.30pm Hague time.

Kenya will have the same time to respond on September 11.

The second round of oral submissions will be on Thursday, September 12, with Somalia getting the time between 3 pm to 6 pm to respond.

Kenya will get a similar opportunity to respond the next day, September 13.