President Uhuru Kenyatta with Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, during his inauguration ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Arabs warn Kenya over diplomatic tiff with Somalia
The Kenya Somali diplomatic standoff yesterday took a turn for the worse after the Arab Parliament warned against meddling with matters to do with the Horn of Africa country.
The Arab Parliament, through the Somalia Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Kenya should keep off the territorial boundaries which have been the subject of the diplomatic tiff between the two countries for years.
“The Arab Parliament calls on Kenya to stop its hands on Somali territorial waters, which are an integral part of the Arab waters, and rejects its false pretensions to draw up a new, unfounded map while rejecting its threats to interfere in Somalia’s internal affairs,” the Somali Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a tweet.
Kenya believes the maritime border dispute has taken an international angle due to foreign and individual commercial interests.
Nairobi is of the view that Mogadishu might have its way at the International Court of Justice in September since Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, the ICJ president is Somali.
Somalia sued Kenya in 2014 at the ICJ asking for a determination of the maritime border between the two countries.
“Somalia has filed 10 volumes of documents and it’s believed that they are receiving considerable help – financial and legal assistance from Western corporations and foreign operatives,” a top government official told the Star.
Government officials and experts warn that if Somalia has its way, Kenya will lose 26 per cent of its exclusive economic zone estimated to be 51,105 square kilometres, 95,320 square kilometres of the continental shelf and access to international waters.
The move is being driven by commercial interests of specific leaders in Somalia who have direct interests in oil blocs as well as foreign nations with vast interests in Somalia.
Diplomatic sources told the Star that the government was preparing a formal protest to Norwegian, British and Turkish governments it blames for having a role in the dispute.
“Top officials are also expected in Ethiopia to lobby for support and isolate Somalia. Somalia top officials have secretly been visiting Sudan and we know what they have been talking,” a top State House official told the Star.
We were unable to reach Foreign Affairs CS and PS.
The current UN monitoring group report to the Security Council Sanctions Committee on Somalia and Eritrea lists companies whose activities in Somalia could ignite a conflict.
“In this case, the involvement of a Norwegian company on one side and of a Swedish-owned/Canada-based company on the other, is even more disturbing, considering the long-standing implication of Norway and Sweden in promoting peace and dialogue in Somalia,” Reuters quotes the report.
Kenya argued at the ICJ that any ruling favourable to Somalia will affect maritime boundaries across Africa, prompting countries downwards to renegotiate their own boundaries. This will affect Kenya and Tanzania, Tanzania and Mozambique and Mozambique and South Africa if the horizontal rule was applied southwards.
Kenya believes that Mogadishu undermined the 2009 pact between the two countries to resolve the dispute through negotiations. This was supposed to be supported by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
“Key relationships, including with national stakeholders, international partners and regional powers, both in the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf should be nurtured,” UN Assistance Mission in Somalia deputy head Raisedon Zenenga told the security council on May 22.
Foreign affairs officials told the Star that Kenya wants the case at ICJ dropped and has informed the UN after Mogadishu on February 7 auctioned the oil blocks in London.
After dropping the case, Kenya still has an uphill task since a number of government officials -including prime minister Hassan Khaire and an oil executive- have direct commercial interest.
“With the officials divided at the helm of the government over the issue, it is a tricky affair. We know the individuals in the Somali government who have direct commercial interests in the oil blocs,” a state official told the Star.
“It has also been tricky to engage the government officials since a number of them decamped from al Shabab or are their sympathisers.”