Abiy Ahmed to Arbitrate between Kenya and Somalia

Kenya-Somalia-disputeMarch 5, 2019 (Ezega.com) - Ethiopia’s Premier Abiy Ahmed and his Somalia counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo arrived in Kenya on Tuesday, where the former is expected to arbitrate on the dispute affecting Kenya and Somalia.

He’ll spearhead efforts to restore diplomatic relations between the two nations, which is threatening to worsen as reported by africanews.

The Source of the Dispute:

Kenya and Somalia are embroiled in a diplomatic row in which the former has accused the latter of auctioning its maritime area.

The Kenyan government accused Somalia of auctioning oil exploration rights for a disputed part of the Indian Ocean. Somalia has since denied executing that and unexpectedly pursued the matter in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

Somalia is adamant it’ll not offer, nor does it have any plans to offer any part of the disputed block in the maritime area, until the matter is decided at The Hague.

In a full-scale diplomatic war, the Kenyan government recalled its ambassador to Somalia, while expelling Somalia envoy from Nairobi.

The Somalia government, in a statement last month, regretted Kenya’s decision to instruct her ambassador to leave Nairobi, without any consultation.

Though Somalia has denied auctioning its oil exploration rights in the disputed area, it says it’s still committed to continuing working collaboratively with Kenya to address any pressing concerns between them and the region in general.

Kenya vowed to respond to what it terms an “illegal grab” that won’t go unanswered. Kenya asked Somalia to respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which it says her neighbor has ignored.

Kenya’s Demands:

On the 17th of February, 2019, the Kenyan government issued three demands to Somalia in what it termed irreducible minimums for the issue to be solved;

- Kenya wants Somalia to pull down a map it presented during an economic forum held in London indicating the disputed area was part of Somalia.

- Kenya wants her neighbor to inform the investors that she has no claim on the disputed territories and she doesn’t claim the oil blocks and, in that case, doesn’t have any jurisdiction to strike a deal with them.

- The matter is settled out of court.

Abiy’s Options:

As Kenya waits for the ICJ’s verdict, it holds the position that a negotiated solution out of the courts is most preferable. The ICJ is still considering a claim on the two neighbor’s maritime boundaries presented by Somalia in 2014 after initial negotiations failed.

Friends don’t take each other to court, they sit down, discuss and arrive at an amicable solution to any problem they face.

According to communication from the Prime Minister’s office, the mediation efforts is meant to ease tensions that have been rising between Kenya and Somalia.

Abiy is accompanied by Somalia’s Farmaajo, and if indeed Kenya and Somalia are keen on easing the tensions that have escalated between them, the negotiations will be fruitful.

Via Twitter yesterday, Somalia’s presidency said Farmaajo’s main objective was to renew diplomatic ties with Kenya. That is an indicator that we’ll likely find a solution to the dispute.

Second, if Abiy isn’t able to assist the two countries in solving the border dispute, we can opt to wait for the ruling from the ICJ at The Hague. But that would leave one country with a bitter taste, which will likely worsen the diplomatic ties between the two neighbors.

While Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta met with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed twice in the past one week, in Asmara and Addis Ababa, he did not welcome the two leaders when they arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

Though Kenya cites betrayal by its neighbor after housing its refugees, and helping it fight the Al-Shabaab terror group, maritime experts argue that based on present maritime laws, if the matter remains in the ICJ, Kenya will lose.

By Solomon O. for Ezega News



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