Uhuru tough stance on maritime row commendable


President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo | PSCU
Joseph Mutua Ndonga
mutuandonga@yahoo.com

Worth Noting:

  • When Kenya submitted that the Somalia’s application was premature and further informed the ICJ that it has referred this matter to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Judges stated the case had been properly filed. The move contradicted Articles 15, 74 and 83 of the Convention, respectively.
  • It should be noted that a boundary along the parallel of latitude has been developed through the consent of Somalia since 1979. Since then, Somalia never protested for long. They filed the case in 2016, 37 years later. Why take that long if they sincerely believed the disputed area belonged to them?

A few days ago, the International Court of Justice [ICJ] delivered the judgment on the maritime boundary dispute between Kenya and Somalia. This was preceded by a statement released by President Uhuru Kenyatta two days earlier during which he vowed that Kenya will reject the verdict in totality.

His decision was mainly informed by two grounds. First, Kenya is a sovereign state and as a Commander-In-Chief of Kenya Defense force, he was duty-bound to defend and protect its borders. The maps and records filed after the demarcation and delimitations of the boundaries clearly showed that the disputed area is in Kenya.

These documents are safely kept by Kenya, Africa Union and United Nations. Therefore, we cannot surrender even an inch of what belongs to us. At one point the President sought to strike a diplomatic tone in time when stated. Kenya’s stand should not be interpreted to mean we have fallen out with the people of Somalia. We still consider them to be ‘our brothers and sisters’.

When I heard the President talking tough from the US where he was on an official visit, this is what came to mind. The government of Kenya was aware that the ICJ will rule in favor of Somalia.

After the ruling, the President reiterated that Kenya was ready and prepared to defend its territorial integrity. To Kenyans, this was a bold and encouraging move. The President once again demonstrated that he was committed to his constitutional calling of securing our country’s borders constitutional.

The second reasoning revolved around the issue of ICJ’s jurisdiction to hear and determine the case. The court’s decision was erroneous and amounted to putting the cart before the horse. The domestic, continental and international laws relating to boundary dispute were very clear. ICJ was a court of last resort. This means that it was supposed to handle the case only after all channels of negotiations and arbitrations were exhausted, and the parties involved failed to agree.

When Kenya submitted that the Somalia’s application was premature and further informed the ICJ that it has referred this matter to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Judges stated the case had been properly filed. The move contradicted Articles 15, 74 and 83 of the Convention, respectively.

It should be noted that a boundary along the parallel of latitude has been developed through the consent of Somalia since 1979. Since then, Somalia never protested for long. They filed the case in 2016, 37 years later. Why take that long if they sincerely believed the disputed area belonged to them?

Well, Kenya was still determined to pursue this matter. When the judges released the schedule for the hearing, then Attorney General Githu Muigai filed another prayer. This time, Kenya sought to have a Somalia judge withdraw from the bench. We know this is a senior judge of this court. We do not want him to handle the case because this would amount to conflict of interest. Again, the court rejected this prayer.

Given this scenario, Kenya took the right decision to withdraw from the case. The judges had already shown that they were biased and partisan. The message was clear. They were presiding over a pseudo judicial process. So, Kenyans should wait for a pre-determined outcome.

The Somalia government filed the case after realizing that the area hold oil and gas deposits. This brings me to the question. Was Somalia serving the interests of super-rich nations? These nations know they can easily access and cheaply buy the vast resources controlled by lawless countries.

Somalia is one of them. Did they sponsor their case? If Somalia’s won the case, this would be their victory. They were simply looking forward to taking over the oil and gas blocks.

I remember Somalia had floated the oil blocks before the London Stock Market. Attempts to sell them, however, hit a dead end after the government of Kenya protested. The decision was rescinded. Somalia had already filed the ICJ case.

This country had behaved like a ‘donkey’ which is known to be ungrateful. If you do something good to this animal, it will still hit you with kicks.

In October 2011, President Mwai and Prime Minister Raila Odinga deployed Kenya Defense Forces [KDF] to pursue Al Shaabab militants inside Somalia.

The operations were meant to secure their government, rebuild and reconstruct their country.  President Uhuru Kenyatta did not withdraw the troops when he took the reign of power. They have now forgotten this.

Joseph Mutua Ndonga is a Political Analyst and Blogger Based in Nairobi

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