Hague court rules Kenya-Somalia maritime row goes to full hearing

February 2, 2017 11:26 pm
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NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hear the case in which Somalia wants determination of the geographical boundary dividing the maritime area with Kenya in the Indian Ocean.

The judges by a majority dismissed Kenya’s preliminary objections that the court had no jurisdiction to determine the dispute and that the case was inadmissible.

“The court by 13 votes to three rejects the first preliminary objections raised by the republic of Kenya in so far it is based in the Memorandum of Understanding of 7 April 2009,” Judge Ronny Abraham, President of the court stated.

“The court finds that Kenya’s preliminary objection to jurisdiction of the court must be rejected.”

The court however found that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Kenya and Somalia to be legitimate since it was duly signed by Somalia’s Minister.

“In the light of the MoU that it shall enter into force upon signature and terms of the authorization given to the Somali Minister, the court concludes that this signature expressed Somalia’s concerns to be bound by the MoU under international law. In the light of the foregoing the court concludes that the MoU is a valid treaty that entered into force upon signature and is binding under international law,” he stated.

Following the ruling which favored Somalia’s position, Attorney General Githu Muigai said Kenya still believed that negotiation between the two countries was the most suitable in resolving the maritime dispute owing it to other factors that affect the two regions that are also direct neighbours.

He however said the Government of Kenya was ready to defend its position that it has jurisdiction over the disputed area.

“Kenya will now proceed to prepare its Counter-Memorial and will vigorously prosecute its case before the Court, and still extends the hand of friendship to Somalia with a view to achieving a negotiated solution that alone can resolve the many challenges facing both countries,” he stated.

It was his view that the court would resolve only few aspects of the dispute that would call for negotiations to set off other deeper underlying issues linked to the maritime boundary.

Somalia moved to the ICJ in August 2014 to contest about 100,000 square kilometres that move diagonally to the South near Kiunga into the sea surpassing the current boundary that separates the Indian Ocean between Kenya and Somalia.

Kenya had urged the ICJ to throw out the case filed by Somalia on basis that it was out of its jurisdiction and that there was a binding MoU and agreement detailing how the maritime boundary dispute would be resolved in cognizance that the two countries were direct neighbours and that peace was a critical aspect in resolving the dispute.

Kenya further wanted the court to declare the case inadmissible.

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