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Kenya, Qatar hold talks in Doha ahead of ICJ ruling on Somalia-Kenya maritime dispute

Friday September 24, 2021

Dr. Fred Matiang'i (L) with Qatari PM Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al Thani. PHOTO: TWITTER

Nairobi (HOL) - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta sent his Cabinet Secretary (CS)in charge of Internal Security Dr. Fred Matiang'I to Doha on Wednesday to deliver a message to the Qatari Emir Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.


The move comes as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) plans to render its verdict in the maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya on October 12.

Speaking after meeting with the Qatari leader, Matiang'I tweeted that the two governments were in the process of brokering a security deal.


"It is was my humbling privilege to deliver a special message from H.E. President Kenyatta to H.E Sheikh Khalid Bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar. Our governments are on course to sign a comprehensive security agreement anchored on mutual interests."


Qatar has been pivotal in brokering the resumption of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia after Somalia cut ties in December 2020.


Qatar had dispatched its Special Envoy for Counterterrorism and Mediation in Conflict Resolution, Dr. Mutlaq al-Qahtani, to lead the mediation efforts after Somalia accused Kenya of interfering in its internal affairs cut all diplomatic relations in December 2020.

Somalia and Kenya both sent their security ministers to Qatar to meet with the Emir and PM as the maritime case was proceeding in The Hague.


This week, the ICJ notified Somalia and Kenya that it would deliver its ruling in the longstanding maritime dispute on October 12 at the Peace Palace in the Hague, Netherlands. The verdict could bring a legal conclusion to a nearly seven-year-long saga.


The court will rule on who has rights over a 100,000sq km triangle of water believed to hold valuable hydrocarbon deposits. Three blocks currently operated by Italian oil giant Eni are in the disputed area.

Kenya abruptly pulled out of the case as hearings began in Mid-March, accusing the U.N's highest court of bias after the ICJ denied its request for additional postponement. Kenya has argued that the African Union should handle the case.


Somalia has resisted pressure from Kenya to reach an out-of-court settlement.


A final decision in the case could take years after appeals are filed.


Qatar does have an interest in brokering a deal between Somalia and Kenya. Qatar Petroleum, which the Qatari government owns, acquired a block of Kenya's offshore oil and gas exploration fields in July 2019. Qatar Petroleum signed a consortium deal to take over three blocks within the maritime border from Total, a French oil and gas company and Eni.


The deal gave Qatar Petroleum a 25 percent stake (13 from Eni and 11 from Total) within the three blocks. Eni would retain 41.25% participating interest, and Total would receive 33.75% participating interest.

The three offshore blocks are located in the Lamu basin- they have approximately 15,000 square kilometres and the depth of water rangers between 1000 and 2800 meters.


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