Third parties behind row with Somalia, Kenya says

Uhuru and Farmaajo

Presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo (Somalia) and Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya).

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The speed at which the matter was rushed before the court and the players involved in this dispute, pointed to a well-orchestrated strategy of pitting the countries against each other.

Kenya has accused third party commercial interests of being behind the maritime dispute with its neighbour Somalia.

In the latest statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as a summary of the new evidence that the country had submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Kenya says the external players, working with Somali political leaders, some of whom are shareholders in the foreign companies, have an ulterior motive to destabilise the region.

“Kenya has also informed the court that influential third party commercial interests are fuelling the case that threatens to destabilise the peace and security of an already fragile region.

The speed at which the matter was rushed before the court and the players involved in this dispute, pointed to a well-orchestrated strategy of pitting the countries against each other in total disregard of the precarious security situation in the region.

"Influential third parties are intent on using instability in Somalia to advance predatory commercial interests with little regard to peace and security in the region,” Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Kenya withdrew from the oral hearings that concluded in The Hague on Thursday. Somalia, meanwhile, made its oral submissions in which it urged the ICJ to make a declaration that Kenya has violated its international obligations under the disputed area in the Indian Ocean.

Technical data

Somalia also wants the UN court to order Kenya “to make full reparation to Somalia, including inter alia by making available to Somalia all seismic, geologic, bathymetric and other technical data acquired in areas that are determined by the court to be subject to the sovereignty and/or sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Somalia.”

Kenya has argued that Somalia has for over three decades acquiesced to Kenya’s control of the disputed area, and thirdly that any changes to the maritime boundary is undesirable as it can cause instability in the region and give chance for terrorism and piracy to thrive.

It is the foreign commercial interest angle that Kenya has however placed a lot of premium to discredit Somalia’s case.

In its submissions of February 22, Kenya says that its own discovery of oil in Turkana and the decision to terminate Norway state oil company, Statoil’s exploration licence may have been the trigger for the boundary dispute.

Disputed maritime area

Months after the rights of Statoil were terminated, Kenya stated, in April 2013, “a Somali parliamentary delegation visited Oslo to discuss co-operation, development and the management of natural resources.”

The discussions reportedly included part of the disputed maritime area. Around the time, Kenya says that Norway installed solar-powered lamps on the streets of Mogadishu and set up a special $30 million (Sh3.3 billion) financing facility donor fund.

Kenya says that six months after Tullow struck oil in Turkana County, in April 2013, Soma Oil & Gas Holdings Limited was incorporated in the UK. Its wholly owned-subsidiary Soma Oil & Gas was incorporated in July 2013. The company had as its directors, former Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Khaire.

Among the annexes Kenya included in the new evidence package are reports that a top official of Somali Petroleum Authority, a petroleum ministry official and an intelligence boss have registered a joint venture between the three officials, while some Qatari businessmen have also invested in the company.