Kenya has decided to withdraw from a maritime-border case with Somalia, ahead of a hearing at the International Court of Justice scheduled for Monday, Nairobi-based Sunday Nation reported.
The decision is partly because of the failure to accept Kenya’s request to further delay hearings due to coronavirus-related disruptions, the newspaper said, citing documents whose source it didn’t disclose.
A spokesperson at Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry couldn’t immediately comment to Bloomberg on Sunday. A call to a spokesperson at the ICJ wasn’t answered out of normal business hour.
The case relates to claims of ownership by Kenya and neighboring Somalia to a 150,000 square-kilometer (58,000 square-mile) area off their Indian Ocean coastline. Both countries are looking to explore the area for oil, gas and fish. In 2014, Somalia went to court to challenge a 2009 agreement that set its maritime border along latitudinal lines extending 450 nautical miles into the sea.
By David Malingha
FROM THE BBC:
Kenya withdraws from ICJ case over Somalia sea border at last minute
Kenya will not take part in Monday’s hearings over its maritime border dispute with Somalia at the International Court of Justice, government sources have told the BBC.
Kenya accuses the ICJ of bias in the case, which concerns a 62,000 sq miles (160,000 sq km) triangle in the Indian Ocean.
The area is thought to be rich in oil and gas.
The dispute is at the heart of a diplomatic row between the neighbours.
Kenya had asked for the case to be delayed while it briefed a new legal team, and also cited the coronavirus pandemic, but the ICJ ruled the case should be heard virtually on Monday.
Kenya also objects to the presence on the ICJ panel of a Somali judge, saying he should recuse himself.
Somalia brought the case in 2014, saying the maritime frontier should follow on in the same direction as the land border, while Kenya argues that it has always been taken in a horizontal line from the point where the two countries meet at the coast.
Kenya’s legal team is understood to want to brief the ICJ for 30 minutes on Monday before the hearing officially starts.
Somalia also accuses Kenya of interfering in its internal affairs by backing the administration of the Jubbaland region against the federal government.
However, the two countries are allies against the al-Shabab Islamist group, which controls many rural parts of Somalia and has staged numerous deadly attacks in Kenya.