Kenya, Somalia maritime dispute intensifies

Somalia files maritime lawsuit in International Court of Justice against Kenya over sea borders

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Somalia has said that its maritime border dispute with Kenya will be submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on July 13.

Mohamed Maareeye, Somalia’s information minister, said his government has lined up a group of international lawyers aimed at "ending Kenya's fake claim in court," according to the BBC.

"The issue of the Kenyan government violations against our territorial waters has continued for a long time, so it's the right time to end its fake claim in court," Maareeye was quoted as saying on Wednesday in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The disputed ocean territory stretches for more than 100,000 square kilometres. Tests have shown potential reserves of gas in the area.

Kenya's Attorney General Githu Muigai told the BBC that Somalia has no right to claim part of Kenya's territorial water. He also confirmed that some concessions have been given to foreign companies for oil and gas exploration.

After efforts to settle the dispute outside court failed in 2014, the ICJ gave Somalia the green light to file the case.

Kenya is expected to respond to Somalia’s suit within a maximum of eight months. It may take several years before the court rules on the matter.

Somalia’s government appears confident that it will win the case. The Somali government wants the ICJ "to determine, on the basis of international law, the complete course of the single maritime boundary dividing all the maritime areas appertaining to Somalia and to Kenya in the Indian Ocean, including the continental shelf beyond 200 [nautical miles]."

Kenya hosts at least 500,000 Somalis at its Dadaab refugee camp.

Hundreds of Kenyan soldiers are taking part in the African Union Mission in Somalia battling the Al Shabab group.

TRTWorld and agencies