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Pan African Forum petitions UN to postpone Somalia-Kenya case at the ICJ

Wednesday February 17, 2021

Dr David Matsanga is the Chairman of the Pan African Forum. /CFM-FILE.

Mogadishu (HOL) - A Nairobi-based forum has written to the United Nations Secretary-General pleading for his intervention in deferring the Somalia-Kenya maritime dispute at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Pan Africa Forum, headed by Ugandan--born lawyer David Matsanga argued that maritime case would exasperate already fraught diplomatic relations between the two East African neighbours and potentially lead to armed violence.

“Mr. Secretary-General, we believe that any ruling at ICJ at any time about the maritime border dispute will spark a vicious war in a region where the conflict of Somalia still rages on,” Matsanga said in his letter to the UN boss.

Matsanga added that Somalia’s leader is not acting to protect Somalia’s sovereignty but to appease international allies.

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“Farmajo seems to be in a predicament due to the undue pressure by external forces, namely Turkey, UAE and Qatar, Norway and to some extent France,” he said.

The Kenyan government asked the ICJ to postpone the maritime dispute for the fourth time, but the Somali government vehemently opposed it.

“After we found out that Kenya wants the case postponed, this morning we sent a letter to the ICJ stating that the Somali government would never accept a fourth postponement,” Somalia Information Minister Osman Abukar Dube told reporters in Mogadishu last Thursday.

Kenya’s solicitor-general, Ken Ogeto, advocated for more time to accommodate an in-person session.

“This is a complex case that requires proper presentation. We have maps, documents that need to be illustrated in court. This would not be possible in a virtual hearing,” he said. For such a serious matter to be heard virtually would be “unfair and prejudicial to Kenya” Ogeto said.

It may be a foregone conclusion as the court notified both parties that the case would proceed as scheduled between March 15-19, 2021. ICC should have heard the case in May, but it was postponed for the third and latest time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Pan Africa Forum’s website, the group’s members consist of scholars and students who lobby to support the African Union objectives. It is worth noting that the African Union has not called for an extension.

Somalia sued Kenya in the international court in 2014 to challenge a 2009 agreement that set its maritime border along latitudinal lines extending 450 nautical miles into the sea. At stake is the ownership of 150,000 square-kilometre area of the Indian Ocean coast, which both countries want to exploit for oil, gas, and fish.


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