Kenyan lawyers led by Attorney General Githu Muigai yesterday turned the heat on Somalia and accused the war-torn nation of ignoring a pact to resolve a boundary row.
Somalia has sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice seeking fresh delimitation of the two countries’ maritime boundary.
It is feared the move could see Kenya become a landlocked state and lose at least five oil-rich petroleum blocks.
However, Kenya told the judges at The Hague they had a valid memorandum of understanding with Somalia on negotiating the boundary dispute and objected to the court hearing the matter.
“A treaty cannot be declared null and void just because one of the signatories has violated its own internal laws,” Kenyan lawyer Karim Khan told the court.
Somalia claims its Parliament voted in 2009 that the agreement is inconsistent with its Federal Charter.
Kenya said there was a deal between the two nations that the dispute be resolved through the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The MoU was signed in 2009 and deposited with the UN in 2011.
“The MoU was initiated by Somalia. It was approved by the President, the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers of Somalia. So Somalia cannot claim the agreement was drafted entirely by Kenya,” Khan said.
In his submissions, Muigai recounted how Kenya has struggled to help Somalia stabilise and accused Mogadishu of acting in bad faith.
“Hundreds of Kenyan soldiers have lost their lives defending the Somali government. They and their families have paid the ultimate price so that our neighbours can live in peace… Somalia would have the court to believe that all these years Kenya has been scheming to take advantage of its neighbour to steal its sea and oil,” the AG said.
“Such accusations are absurd, they are hurtful, and they are unfair and disrespectful to a government and people that have sacrificed so much in support of Somalia.”
Muigai said the maritime boundary delimitation is complex and called “for time until Somalia achieves greater stability”.
“Somalia cannot repudiate its obligations and then portray itself as a victim of Kenya. The MoU sets out the agreed procedure of settling this dispute. It must be followed,” he said.
Kenya has hired renowned international lawyers for the case, among then Khan, Prof Payam Akhvan (Canadian), Prof Vaughan Lowe (British), Prof Alan Boyle (British), Prof Mathias Forteau (French) and Amy Sanders (British).