NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – Kenya has recalled the ambassador to Somalia Lt. General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo to Nairobi for ‘urgent’ consultations after the Somali Government unilaterally auctioned off oil and gas blocks in a contested maritime area.
Kenya has at the same time sent Ambassador’s Tumbo counterpart in Nairobi back to Mogadishu in what appears to be a quickly escalating diplomatic spat between the two neighbors.
In a statement read by Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau, Kenya claimed the auction took place in London, United Kingdom, on 7th February, 2019.
The strongly worded statement has termed the auction as, “unparalleled affront” with Nairobi vowing that the “illegal grab” will not go unanswered.
“This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes,” read part of the statement.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that an amicable and peaceful resolution of the maritime boundary dispute was ongoing including bilateral negotiations and a process in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), “where this matter of the Kenya/Somalia boundary currently rests,” said Kamau.
He warned that Somalia’s action has severely damaged the existing cordial relations between the two countries,
According to Nairobi, Somalia auctioned the contentious blocks to the “highest predatory” bidders from the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Norway after a map showing the area in question belonging to Somalia was shown at a London conference.
Kamau said Nairobi protested by sending an official diplomatic protest letter (demarches) to the Ambassador of Somalia in Kenya with a copy sent to Ambassador Tumbo for onward forwarding to the Government of Somalia.
“It is, therefore, most regretful that the Government of Kenya has now arrived at the conclusion that its protest and demands that Kenya sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected, have been ignored.”
“The Government of Kenya cannot and will not standby as its demarches are ignored and its territorial integrity is infringed upon and its sovereign resources are carved out and shared out by an ungracious and unbrotherly neighbor acting to satisfy the greed of commercial interest resident in foreign land.”
There was a sense of betrayal in the statement with Nairobi reminding Mogadishu how Kenya has stood by the troubled neigbour by sending its armed forces to support Somali’s army to fight Al Shabaab.
“Kenya has paid an unparalleled price for its generosity and hospitality without ever asking for anything in return. The lives of Kenyans lost owing to Kenya’s commitment to international peace and security remain a fresh memory in the minds of Kenyans and a painful remainder of the high cost of good neigbourliness and international corporate responsibility.”