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The warring parties

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Kenya vs Somalia

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Kenya and Somalia are headed for a confrontation over the ownership of some oil blocks at the coast.

Last week, the Somalia Cabinet passed a resolution to expand its sea boundaries by about 38,000 square kilometres, covering an area with six downstream oil and gas exploration blocks. By extending its border, Somalia will be eating into a territory Kenya believes is hers and for which it has already signed production sharing contracts with oil and gas exploration companies.

With the high prospects for both oil and gas at the Kenyan coast line, the decision by the Somalia Cabinet, if implemented, is likely to trigger acrimony between the two countries.

The two governments signed an agreement in 2009, allowing either of them to go ahead with activities in the disputed area while they wait for demarcation.

However, the Somalia parliament later vetoed the agreement following an outcry by civil society groups in the country.

Tanzania vs Malawi

Disagreements over the ownership of Lake Malawi, one of the world’s largest freshwater bodies, have formed the centre stage of a protracted conflict between Tanzania and Malawi. Malawi, which sits to the west of the lake, claims the entire northern half of the lake, while Tanzania, to the east, says it owns half of the northern area. The southern half is shared between Malawi and Mozambique.

Malawi angered Tanzania in 2011 when it awarded exploration licences to UK-based Surestream Petroleum to search for oil in the disputed northern area. Rich hydrocarbon deposits are believed to lie below Lake Malawi.

The Southern Africa Development Corporation (SADC) this month released a roadmap for the mediation on the border wrangle. The roadmap will run until September 2013 and spells out steps in the mediation process. Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa, is home to 1,000 endemic species of fish, estimated to be more than any other place on earth.

Sudan vs South Sudan

Conflict is brewing between the two countries over oil export, with Sudan now threatening to stop transportation of oil from South Sudan through its pipeline.

The situation has been heightened by claims that South Sudan is supporting rebels in some parts of Sudan determined to bring down the current regime.

Sudan has threatened to close its pipes in the next two months, denying South Sudan, which is landlocked, an avenue to get the oil to international markets.

The South Sudan parliament last week summoned three ministers over the clash with Sudan seeking to address the pending blockade. Last year, disagreements over how much South Sudan should pay for the transportation of the oil led to a stalemate that caused production to be suspended for about a year and three months.

The two countries have also been at loggerheads over certain oil-rich regions claimed by both states as part of their sovereign territories. South Sudan sources about 98 per cent of its revenues from oil.

Ethiopia vs Egypt

Ethiopia’s decision to construct a multi-billion shilling hydroelectric dam on one of the Nile’s tributaries has sparked a fierce face-off with Egypt.

In a conflict that has caught the attention of the international community, the Egyptian government has threatened to sabotage the Sh400 billion project, demanding that the dimensions and size of the dam be changed. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi last week said his country was ready to “defend each drop of Nile water with our blood if necessary”.

Ethiopia, on the other hand, has stood its ground, terming as unstoppable the Grand Renaissance Dam project which is expected to add 6,000 megawatts to the country’s power grid. Tension between the two countries has been ongoing for a while over River Nile, the longest river in the world, with Egypt claiming exclusive rights to the Nile’s waters, as phrased in colonial-era treaties.

Though the two countries have refrained from unequivocal war threats, both have taken opposing positions on the conflict, with Egypt saying it would leave “all options open” in its quest to defend the Nile, which is the source of water for most of its citizens.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni last week joined the fight, telling the Egyptian government not to repeat mistakes of past leaders with the issuance of chauvinistic and irrational statements.

Kenya and Uganda

Kenya and Uganda have had a long-running ownership dispute over Migingo, a tiny island in Lake Victoria that serves as a landing site for fishermen from both countries.

Claim to the island’s ownership by both countries may not have resulted in a fight yet but has often elicited verbal exchanges between the two governments.

Migingo is of particular importance to fishermen living in both countries especially because of the big Nile perch stocks in the waters surrounding it. The conflict raised public interest in early 2009 amid claims that Uganda had taken over ownership of the island. Later, Uganda sent soldiers to claim the island and hoisted its flag, barring Kenyan fishermen from accessing the isle.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in 2009 humourously said the island belonged to Kenya but the surrounding waters were Uganda’s. Retired President Kibaki dismissed the claim of there being any other owner of Migingo except Kenya. His successor, President Kenyatta, in the presidential debates leading to the General Election, also made clear his stand on the ownership of the island.

The two countries have set up a joint surveying team consisting of experts to help settle the diplomatic dispute. The team is yet to finish its work.

Souce: Daily Nation

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