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Uhuru Kenyatta: Kenya rejects ICJ ruling on maritime dispute in totality

Wednesday October 13, 2021

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta in Paris, France, October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

Nairobi (HOL) -  President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a statement on Tuesday saying that Kenya had rejected a judgement by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Kenya- Somalia maritime border dispute. The court granted Somalia most of the territory that it had requested.

In a four-page statement sent to media houses six hours after the ICJ made its ruling, Kenyatta said that Kenya would not recognize the court's finding in the matter.

"At the outset, Kenya wishes to state that it rejects in totality and does not recognize the findings in the decision," President Kenyatta said.

His reaction is precisely opposite to how his Somalia counterpart, Mohamed Farmajo, reacted. The Somali president delivered a victory speech congratulating the Somali people and thanked its legal team for their endeavours.

In a televised press conference, Farmajo welcomed the ruling and urged Kenya to accept it, so the two countries to rebuild their diplomatic ties.

Kenyatta further stated that the decision embodied a perpetuation of the ICJ's jurisdictional overreach and raised a fundamental question on whether the sovereignty and consent of States are respected.

"International tribunals have jurisdiction only to the extent of consent by a State," he further stated.

Kenyatta - serving his second and last term as Kenya's Head of State - maintained that the ruling would hugely affect the relationship between Somalia and Kenya.

According to Kenyatta, the ruling will only reverse the social, economic and political gains that the two countries have achieved.

He further dismissed a finding by the court, which ruled that Kenya's claim was not integral to regional security.

Kenyatta said that his country would explore other options and engage the Africa Union Border Programme and its Peace and Security architecture to address the problem.

He said that he was being pushed by the oath of office he took, which included protecting Kenya's boundaries.

"I do not intend to abrogate my solemn oath; and, I will do everything possible as President and Commander-in-Chief, to preserve the territory of this our great Republic and bequeath the same, intact and unencumbered, to the next President when my term expires in less than a year."

President Kenyatta announced that he would ensure he protects Kenya's boundaries.

The ICJ has dismissed Kenya's claim to a parallel latitude (horizontal) boundary. CREDIT: ICJ

In his sentiments, the President said he would do all it takes to ensure that the disputed part rich in oil and gas remains Kenya's property.

"We know our boundaries, and we shall not remain silent when some people who think we don't know the map want to take our land forcefully," Kenyatta said.

On Thursday, US President Biden will host President Uhuru Kenyatta at the White House. The leaders will discuss the U.S.-Kenyan bilateral relationship, security, climate change and economic growth. Kenyatta will be the first African president to visit the White House during the Biden administration.

On Tuesday, Kenya suffered a significant blow after the UN's top court ruled mainly in Somalia's favour in their seven-year maritime border dispute. The court issued a new boundary and asked both nations to abide by its ruling.

Other top Kenyan politicians backed Kenyatta's call not to recognize the international court's ruling.

Agriculture CS Peter Munya has said Kenya would not hand even a portion of the land in the Indian Ocean.

The CS spoke in Murang'a County and said that Somalia should ensure it respects Kenya's boundaries by all means.

"Kenya is not going to hand over even a portion of the land for whatever reason," Munya, a close confidant to President Uhuru Kenyatta, said while addressing the media in Murang'a County.

The CS comments came barely an hour after the UN's top court ruled that Kenya should hand over part of the disputed area to Somalia.

Danstun Omari, a prominent Kenyan lawyer, dismissed the ruling saying that Kenya should not respect the verdict.

He questioned the legitimacy of the court and opined that the court usually does more harm than good.

"Kenya should not in any way respect the ruling that the court issued in any way whatsoever because the court is fond of being controversial so as it causes chaos," said Omari.

The lawyer said that Kenya had also raised issues with the court, saying they would not respect the verdict since a Somali Judge identified as Abdulqaqi Ahmed Yusuf sits on the ICJ bench.

The ICJ verdict on Tuesday was final, meaning that Kenya does not have any options at appeal.  The court has no mechanism of enforcement and powerful countries like China and the US have been known to flout its rulings.


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