UK urges Somalia, Kenya to amicably resolve maritime dispute

Deputy President William Ruto chats with British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot at his Karen home Image: DPPS

NAIROBI, Kenya - The UK is now pushing for mediation between Kenya and Somalia over the maritime dispute.

Through it’s High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriot, Britain said it would like to see Kenya and Somalia resolve the maritime border dispute amicably.

Marriott said dialogue remains key to solving the maritime dispute between the two nations.

She spoke on Tuesday when she met Deputy President William Ruto at his Karen home.

Marriott said it was remarkable that President Uhuru Kenyatta met with his Somalia counterpart Mohammed Farmaajo on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last week to explore ways of resolving the problem.

"Dialogue between Kenya and Somalia on how to solve the maritime dispute is important. This is why the step taken by President Kenyatta to meet with his Somalia counterpart during the United Nations General Assembly was impressive,” she said.

 Last week after a meeting between Uhuru and Farmaajo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that he had brokered a deal between the two countries.

 In their first face-to-face meeting since March, Presidents Kenyatta and Farmaajo gave signals that a deal could be in the offing with the formation of a “Kenyan-Somali Committee.”

The committee is to “work immediately on adopting measures for restoring confidence and resolving all problems so as to normalize bilateral relations” according to a statement posted on Egypt's State Information Service (SIS) website.

However, shortly after the meeting, Farmaajo’s spokesman Abdinur Mohamed pointed out that the case Somalia has lodged at the International Court of Justice will proceed to its logical end.

“Kenya and Somalia have agreed to work towards normalizing relations without any implications for the maritime case at the ICJ which will take its full course,” the spokesman twitted.

But Uhuru while addressing the assembly maintained that  Somalia should allow negotiations over the disputed oil field in the Indian Ocean.

Uhuru said Kenya remains committed to its pursuit of peace and stability in the region.

Uhuru, while congratulating Sudan and South Sudan for committing to a path of sustainable peace, challenged Somalia to consider dialogue and negotiation as an option for resolving the maritime border dispute currently before the ICC.

"In the same spirit, my administration continues to reach out to Somalia in an effort to find an amicable and sustainable solution to the maritime boundary dispute between us," he said.

"In this regard, I welcome the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council of 3rd September 2019 that urges both parties to engage."

Uhuru said the UN Charter privileges the use of negotiation as the most preferred mechanism for settlement of disputes.

But Farmaajo in his response to the assembly said he and President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed to let the ICJ resolve the maritime dispute.

"We agreed the matter will be resolved by the International Court of Justice. Somalia is committed to maintaining a good relationship with Kenya. The Somali community continues to invest in the country of Kenya which indeed contributes to its growth and prosperity," Farmaajo said.

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