Ex-Somali president asks gov’t to come clean on delay of maritime case with Kenya

Former President of Somalia Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has accused the federal government of misleading the public over the delay of the proceedings of the maritime dispute case between Somalia and Kenya at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In a press conference he held today, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the court can only delay the proceedings of the case if the two parties, Somalia and Kenya, accepted the delay.

He accused the leaders of the federal government of lying to the public by saying they had opposed the delay that was requested by Kenya.

President Mohamud said it was unfortunate that the case is still at the stage it was four years ago when he was in power.

“The maritime [border dispute] case is at the stage where we left it four years ago. The hearing of the case was delayed three times. Every time there was a delay, the government comes and says they were opposed to the delay but it has never shared with the public any evidence on that,” the former president said.

The ICJ has once again pushed oral arguments in the case to 15 March 2021 over the global coronavirus pandemic.

The maritime border case, which has been ongoing for six years now, was to be heard between 8 and 12 June 2020.

The court’s decision was announced on State TV by the Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled and follows a request by the government of Kenya for the case to be indefinitely delayed because of disruptions caused by coronavirus.

Kenya argued that the pandemic had impacted its ability to marshal funds and resources for the case.

Kenya has been trying to avoid a binding court ruling on the matter, and to this end had put Somalia under diplomatic and political pressure for years in an attempt to have the case resolved outside court.

But Somalia has always insisted that the court must decide the sea borders between the two countries, resisting all attempts to get it withdraw the case.

Area of contention is a 100,000 square kilometres triangle separating the two countries inside the Indian Ocean, which is said to be rich in petroleum.