No end in sight for Kenya-Somalia diplomatic tiff

Are we still friends? President Uhuru Kenyatta with Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo during a past meeting in Nairobi. Photo courtesy: Google

NAIROBI – Somalia’s constant insincerity played out during a meeting at State House this week, when President Mohamed Farmajo and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met the Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta, to seek a truce in the maritime border conflict.

While no official statement was issued from State House, Villa Somalia was quick to release information of the meeting, ignoring the meeting’s main agenda.

Despite Kenya making its position clear, President Farmajo, who has been globetrotting on a shuttle diplomacy bid to play victim on the matter is reluctant to withdraw maps which have Kenya’s territory in it.

Sources in Mogadishu have indicated that the populace is rather unhappy with his actions which are prone to expose his nationals, since Kenya has been a hospitable country.

“We wonder why Farmajo is adamant to do what is right despite an MoU being in existence. He is actually abusing Kenya’s hospitality and exposing us as ungrateful and greedy,” said a senior official in Mogadishu.

Kenya is bitter with Somalia which for selling oil and gas blocks at a London auction last month, despite a pending delineation case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“The maps have to be withdrawn for there to be any engagement between the two countries, how would your neighbor propagate peace while eating your food and leaving your household with none,” added the official.

Following the Nairobi meeting, Abiy’s office tweeted that the pair discussed the matter “extensively. As an outcome, both agreed to work towards peace & to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions.”

Last month, Nairobi recalled its ambassador from Mogadishu for “urgent consultations” over the disputed area, believed to hold lucrative offshore oil and gas deposits in a part of Africa only recently found to be sitting on significant reserves.

Kenya said it had acted because of an “egregious decision by the government of Somalia to auction off oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territorial area that borders Somalia”.

It accused Somalia of an “unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya”.

But Somalia rejected the allegations, saying it would not “undertake any unilateral activities in the disputed area” until the ICJ had ruled on the matter.

Based in The Hague, the tribunal rules in disputes between countries, and has been hearing a case brought by Somalia in 2014.

Its final ruling will significantly impact a potential new source of revenue for either of the east African neighbours.

Somalia, which lies northeast of Kenya, wants to extend its maritime frontier with Kenya along the line of the land border, in a southeasterly direction.

But Kenya wants the border to head out to sea in a straight line east, giving it more territory.

The disputed triangle of water stretches over an area of more than 100,000 square kilometers (40,000 square miles).

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma, has insisted that Kenya will not cede ground on the matter, terming it an “affront to Kenya’s territorial integrity.”

Source: Capital FM