ICJ agrees to delay Kenya-Somalia maritime case

Thursday October 17 2019

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

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

AGGREY MUTAMBO
By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The International Court of Justice has agreed to Kenya’s request to delay the public hearing in its maritime boundary case with Somalia.

In a statement issued on Thursday night, the Hague-based court said the decision was reached after Mogadishu and Nairobi agreed to send legal teams on the new agreed dates.

"The court has duly considered the views and arguments of the parties regarding Kenya's request. It has decided to postpone oral proceedings to the week beginning on Monday 8, June, 2020. This postponement is granted on the understanding that both parties will be represented in the hearings and that no further postponement will be granted," the statement reads.

The move could come as a relief for Nairobi which had earlier complained that the initial date of November 4, was not enough for its legal team to prepare for the case.

Last month, Kenya asked for a delay by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team.

But the ICJ, which had initially set a September 9-13 date, pushed the public hearings to November 4-8.

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Kenya's Attorney General, however, appealed the decision arguing the period granted was insufficient, and suggesting September 2020 as the ideal time.

This latest decision by the ICJ is expected to at least lower diplomatic tensions between the two countries.

Kenya has always argued that the case shouldn't be heard at the ICJ saying the court is rigid and may not resolve the political issues around the case.

It instead, approached the African Union, seeking an out of court settlement.

However, addressing the UN General Assembly in New York last month, Somalia's President Mohamed Farmaajo rejected President Uhuru Kenyatta’s call for talks, saying that the court should be the ultimate arbiter.

Somalia sued Kenya at the ICJ in 2014, seeking to redraw the sea boundary between the two countries from the current straight line to a diagonal flow.

The disputed area is about 100,000km square said to contain hydrocarbons reserves.

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