Kenya, Somalia fail to settle border row

Thursday March 7 2019

abiy ahmed abdulahi farmajo uhuru kenyatta

Presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of Somalia (left), Kenya;s Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pose for a photo after a meeting on the maritime border row at State House Nairobi on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | PMO 

BUSINESS DAILY
By BUSINESS DAILY
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Kenya Thursday failed to reach an agreement with Somalia on how to settle a border dispute in a meeting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed brokered to ease diplomatic tensions.

Mogadishu, a Somali diplomat told the Business Daily, will wait for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to decide on the dispute as opposed to Kenya’s demand for an out-of-court settlement and reversion to a map agreeable to both sides.

The Kenyan side largely kept mum on the details of the meeting and the low-key form of it was amplified by the fact that there was no joint communique issued after the discussions held during a closed-door meeting at State House, Nairobi.

The meeting was meant to restore diplomatic normalcy between the two sides after Kenya on February 16 recalled its ambassador to Somalia following the Mogadishu government’s decision to auction oil and gas exploration blocks at the centre of a maritime territorial dispute in the Indian Ocean.

The ICJ in The Hague is considering a claim on the maritime boundaries brought by Somalia in 2014 after negotiations over the 100,000 square kilometre stretch of sea floor broke down.

On Wednesday, the Ethiopian PM mediated a less-than-colourful meeting in Nairobi between presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Mohammed Farmajo.

'Restoring relations'

Mr Farmaajo’s spokesman Abdinur Mohamed Ahmed said the leaders agreed to allow back their respective envoys as a way of “restoring relations”.

“Their Excellencies (sic) President (Mohammed Farmaajo) and President Uhuru Kenyatta agreed on strengthening diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“They also agreed to have their respective ambassadors return to each country's mission to resume their important duties. Co-operation and partnership,” he said Wednesday.

Kenya had on February 16 summoned ambassador, Lucas Tumbo, and asked his Somalia counterpart Mohammed Muhamud Nur to return to Mogadishu for consultation with his government.

This followed the decision by Somalia on February 7 to auction oil and gas blocks in the disputed maritime area.

Raised concerns

Kenya said it had raised concerns with Mogadishu a day before the auction after it noticed blocks in what it considers to be its maritime territory were part of the sale.

The two states have been co-operating in the long war on Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia.

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