ICJ postpones Kenya-Somalia case to November to allow Nairobi seek new legal team

Friday September 6 2019

Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute

The area in the Kenya-Somalia maritime border dispute forms a triangle east of the Kenya coast. GRAPHIC | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The International Court of Justice on Thursday agreed to delay the public hearing of a case in which Somalia has sued Kenya over a maritime boundary dispute.

The Court Registrar Philippe Gautier said the ICJ would now open public hearings for the case on November 4, not September 9 as earlier scheduled.

Kenya had on Tuesday asked the court to delay the hearings by up to a year, citing inability to be adequately represented and that it needed time to recruit a new legal team.

Mr Gautier did say the "last minute request" had caused "undue effect on the administration of the court's work, but said the planned arrangements for public presentation will remain unchanged in the new schedule.

"Due to exceptional circumstances, occasioned by the need to recruit a new defence team, Kenya has sought to have the matter postponed,” Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki had said in a statement on Tuesday.

He had, however, declined to say the status of the initial legal team.

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The case had been scheduled for hearing next week after which the 15-bench court, whose President is Somali Judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf, was to deliver a verdict by September 19.

It means Kenya has just under 60 days to find a new team of lawyers.

Initially Prof Payam Akhavan from the US, Prof Vaughan Lowe QC from the UK, Prof Alan Boyle (British), Prof Mathias Forteau (French), Mr Karim Khan (British) and Ms Amy Sanders (British) were Kenya's legal team.

The judgement will be delivered two weeks after the hearing.

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