Wednesday, October 16, 2019
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The Case of Somalia and Kenya’s Maritime Dispute- Part III

By Ahmed Hirsi

The dispute concerning the delimitation of maritime boundary between Kenya and Somalia in the Indian Ocean has been building up for quite some time and neither side is willing to back down, given the significance of the case which is hinged on various variables such as national pride, sovereignty not to mention the existing vast amount of oil, fish and minerals in the disputed area.

Of late the Kenyan government has extremely intensified and has been drumming up support in numerous countries and capital cities around the world such as Djibouti, United Kingdom and Tanzania. Likewise, the Kenyan media has been awash with various articles that were aimed at spreading lies and propaganda regarding this dispute. Furthermore, the Kenyan parliament approved millions of dollars in its budget to support this ill-fated case.

For instance the Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Monica Juma visited Djibouti and United Kingdom. The Kenyan President also has recently paid a visit to his counterpart in Tanzania, although the Tanzanian President had taken a breather off busy schedules up in the mountains in his native Mlimani, Chato, however, this matter didn’t deter President Kenyatta from knocking on his door.

President Kenyatta with the Tanzanian
President John Magufuli

According to the Kenyan media President Kenyatta had planned to visit President John Magufuli of Tanzania for few hours and return back to Kenya, but decided to spend the night at Chato Mr Magafuli’s home town.

This illustrates the sheer desperation Kenya has found its self in. Additionally both the Tanzanian and Kenyan media reported that, the two leaders will conduct discussions on undisclosed topics. 

Bantunization of the case

Frankly speaking, weaponizing and the utilization of ethnicity is not only perilous but it does indicate moral breakdown and weakness. On a personal and professional level, I despise resorting into race and ethnicity or tribalism as it is popularly known in Africa, however I was compelled to showcase the Bantunization of this case by Dr Matsanga from Uganda among other Bantu writers from East Africa with the exception of Tanzanians. Matsanga professed to be Pan African dissident notwithstanding; he head on and aimlessly verbally assaulted the President of International Court of Justice – ICJ Justice Yusuf for simply being Somali.  What a shame!

In being Somali, Dr Matsanga argues, Justice Yusuf’s alleged relations with Somali President Mohamed Farmajo, including coming from the same Marehan clan as well as having members of his family work for the government makes him “biased” and “impartial.”

For your information Dr Matsanga, Justice Yusuf isn’t Marehan and regardless of whether he is Marehan or not, his clan affiliation has nothing to do with the court or the current case.

The manner in which Matsanga presented his argument is similar to the way some uninformed individuals will refer to the Kenyan Ambassador in Holland, the Kenyan Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the previous Kenyan Attorney General and all other Kikuyus/Karanja’s, Mwangi’s and Waweru’s from Central Kenya in the civil service and shine a light on them by linking them to President Uhuru Kenyata and state since they are Kikuyu’s they are one-sided and biased.

It will be nonsensical and absurd to weaponise tribal/ clan affiliation of our African elites and appeal to emotions rather than the use of hard facts.

Common sense dictates that it will not be right in the event that you judge someone based on ethnicity/clan. The aforementioned individuals got there for the most part, due to merit and not because of tribalism. Likewise, I do not subscribe to the notion of Mount Kenya Mafia neither do I believe in conspiracy theories. It is utterly disgusting and wrong to spread tribal hatred in any form or shape.

Why Postpone now?

Kenya has written to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and has requested postponement of proceedings of a maritime dispute with Somalia.

Pres. Uhuru Kenyatta and Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma at meeting with leaders of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States in Bridgetown, Barbados/AFP

Kenya argued that it needs to recruit a new team of lawyers to defend it hence it will not be able to proceed with oral hearing slated for next week, in what it termed as “exceptional circumstances”.

The postponement Kenya has asked for is for a period of 12 months. The question that begs an answer is why 12 months?  The answer to this is quite simple and straight forward. Various Kenyan writers have been arguing that the President of the court is Somali and they have openly asked for his removal.  The 12 months postponement window is geared up to coincide with when the tenure for justice Yusuf expires.  However, the International Court of Justice postponed the oral proceedings only for two months and rescheduled the oral hearing to kick start Monday the 4th of November 2019.

On top of that the postponement must coincide with Kenya’s bid for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) non permanent seat for the period of 2021 t0 2021- what a clever move by Kenya.  

Kenya is campaigning very hard to get this seat and once this seat is secured it could be used to influence other world leaders to its favour. Kenya has so far spent millions of dollars and thousands of hours lobbying for the above mentioned UN Security Council seat and as to  how to resolve the maritime dispute with Somalia in an out of court settlement.

Time is not on Kenya’s favour although Kenya has and still trying to run down the clock with various tactics, the last one being the suspension of its legal team. Kenya is still adamant on out of court settlement perhaps this move could be attributed to legal technicalities or as another delaying tactic. In addition, twenty Kenyan petitioners have moved to the Kenyan High Court seeking to coerce the Kenyan Government to withdraw from a maritime delimitation case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In conclusion whatever the outcome of this case Kenya and Somalia should maintain peace and stability in the region. It’s similarly critical that we must refuse forces that may trigger animosity, and those who are trying to plant the seed of hatred, between Kenya and Somalia. So let’s patiently wait for the court’s decision which may take months this time around. Perhaps the legal cream could prevent the itch.

Ahmed Hirsi
Email: [email protected]

Related Articles

The case of Somalia and Kenya’s maritime dispute By Ahmed H.

The case of Somalia and Kenya’s maritime dispute- Part II By Ahmed H.


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