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Eyes on court in fight against Somalia’s oil block suit at UN

Monday September 16, 2019

Lawyer Kibe Mungai makes submissions in court. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The High Court has set October 7 as mention date for a petition seeking to block the State from taking part in an arbitration on dispute with Somalia in the latest attempt by Kenyans to frustrate the case.

The petition filed by 20 Kenyans led by activist Kiriro Wa Ngugi is meant to block the government from the November 4 arbitration at the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ).

High Court Judges Kanyi Kimondo, Robert Limo and Antony Mrima further announced October 9 and 10 as the main hearing dates for the case. Somalia claims ownership of an area, almost 150,000 square kilometres off the Indian Ocean coastline, believed to harbour tuna fish, oil, natural gas and minerals.

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Kenya has been consistent in opposing the ICJ case from 2014 and has previously asked for it to be delayed by a year. The two states were to face off again from September 9 but Attorney- General Kihara Kariuki sought to have the matter postponed “because the rules of ICJ afford the parties opportunities to be represented.”

In August, the National Assembly passed a resolution allowing President Uhuru Kenyatta to use the military to reinforce Kenya's claim on the disputed maritime space.

In the latest push, lawyer Kibe Mungai for the petitioners wants the High Court to rule on the matter ahead of the Kenya-Somalia case before the UN top court.

“That this Honourable Court be pleased to issue a conservatory order of injunction restraining the respondents from further participation in the proceedings in the Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean (Somalia v Kenya) case at the International Court of Justice, pending the hearing and determination of this Application/Petition,” the petitioners prayers before the High Court read.

They also want the State retrained from acting on the decisions of the UN court pending the determination of the hearing.

“That pending hearing and determination of this petition this Honourable Court be pleased to issue a conservatory order restraining the respondents from taking any measures or decisions that will alter or in any way interfere with the territory or territorial waters comprising Kenya as at 27th August, 2010,” they say in the court papers.

The ICJ said last week the first round of oral argument will be made by Somalia followed by Kenya on November 4 and 5 respectively. The second round of oral arguments will be repeated in this order on 7 and 8 November respectively.


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