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Uhuru's team summoned to The Hague amid Indian Ocean border dispute

Friday October 4, 2019

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Mohamed Farmaajo. [Photo/PSCU/Twitter]
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Mohamed Farmaajo. [Photo/PSCU/Twitter]

Kenya has once again been summoned to the International Court of Justice at The Hague following the latest application to have Indian Ocean maritime dispute postponed.

It has now emerged that President Uhuru Kenyatta's team wants the ICJ to postpone hearing of the matter to 2020, citing inadequacies in legal representation.

The ICJ had scheduled November 6th to 8th for submission from both Kenya and Somalia over the maritime dispute, which threatens diplomatic ties between the two nations.

Reports indicate that ICJ judges have summoned both countries, following Kenya's reluctance to pursue the matter at The Hague based court.

"The International Court of Justice summoned Somalia and Kenya over the maritime case. It comes after Nairobi filed a new request to have the hearing postponed again until Sept 2020, drawing strong rejection from Somalia which insisted it should take place as planed, 4 Nov 2019," reports indicated.

Last week, 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 ICJ.

“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.”

But in what could further escalate differences between the two countries, Somalia President Mohammed Farmaajo insisted that Mogadishu believes in the court settlement of the dispute.

According to him, the relationship between Kenya and Somalia should not be comprised simply because of the current case which the ICJ has jurisdictions to hear and determine.

"Our overall relations are excellent. Our maritime boundaries have never been delimiting. It's our disagreement between the two sister states.

"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 UN, is keen to see this court settlement to its end," he said.

The case was slated for September this year but Kenya requested for adjournment after changing the legal team. ICJ had set November 6th to 8th as dates for submission from both parties.

But reports had indicated that Nairobi had yet again applied for adjournment as Uhuru seeks to have the dispute settled through dialogue, an idea which Somalia has already rejected.

So thorny has been the maritime dispute that at one point, Kenya recalled her ambassador in Mogadishu. On Wednesday last week, AU chairman Abdel Fattah organised a meeting between Uhuru and Farmaajo but it seems no agreement was reached.

In August, Majority Leader Aden Duale brought a motion to Parliament in which he seeks approval from MPs to have KDF troops deployed along the disputed Indian Ocean maritime border.

Solicitor General Ken Ogeto is already at The Hague ahead of final verdict by the court whether or not the case should proceed in November as planned.