The maritime contention amidst Somalia and Kenya embarks and erupts 07/04/2009, when the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the two countries.

Kenya side, was signed by foreign affairs minister Hon. Moses Wetang’ula, while Somalia side, and was signed by the Minister for National Planning and International Cooperation Hon. Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame.

Since then, there was a long standing public mood and doubt towards this clandestine agreement among the two states. The memorandum is pursuant to a United Nations requirement that all countries with naval boundaries sign delineation agreements and lodge them with the United Nations by 13th may 2009, and it allows each of the signatories to lodge their documents separately to the relevant body.

International Court of Justice (ICJ)

The tussle among Kenya and Somalia towards the maritime disputes escalated and becomes an inexorable after Somalia sued Kenya at the international court of justice at The Hague, Netherland, that Kenya is implementing illicitly an operations in her maritime territory in august 2014. In this regard, Kenya dares in October 2015 with this jurisdiction of the ICJ to organize hearing about the case as well as its admissibility. According to the disputed area estimates 100,000 square kilometers.

Responding to this, ICJ held the first public hearing towards Kenya’s petition on September 19-20, 2016. In February 2017 it quashed Kenya’s plea, affirming its suitability to hear and present the case. Additionally, Kenya conflagrates the issue, after her attorney general Prof Githu Mungai unveiled that Kenya would be filing a counter-memorial which is against Somalia’s claims before the ICJ.

The dispute becomes intractable and ineluctable, when Somalia orchestrates Somali oil conference in London in Feb 8, this year. During this conference period, enormous Somalis, who are angry this conference summoned in front of the conference hall and demonstrated their backlash towards auctioning the natural resource of the country. Somali’s government explained this conference, which is all about presentation and marketing, and there is no so far an auctioning.

On the other hand, Kenya showcases a ballistic response towards this conference, when expels the Somali ambassador to Kenya Mohamoud Ahmed Nur (Tarsan), and summoned back her ambassador to Somalia Lt-Gen Lucas Tumbo for consultation in Feb 16, 2019.

According to Kenya’s foreign affairs permanent secretary Macharia Kamau rebukes Somalia auctioning the oil blocks was taken place in London conference, while saying “This unparalleled affront and illegal grab at the resources of Kenya will not go unanswered and is tantamount to an act of aggression against the people of Kenya and their resources”

“This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes,”

Since then, Kenya begins to restrict the visas for the Somalia citizens with the Somalia passport. During that days, tremendous credulous Somalia citizens encountered draconian rules from the Kenya’s immigration and rejected them to enter her country, including those wanted health, education and business issues in Nairobi.

Because, Somalia politicians are double-citizens, so, they don’t feel the bitter of the diplomatic tension among the two neighboring countries. Only, the ordinary citizens are feeling the bad legacy of the tension.

Kenya demands three bitter options, while Somalia belittles and takes as a facetious the demand!

In feb17, this year, Kenya’s principal secretary Macharia Kamau evokes that Kenya demands these three options, If Somalia wants to thaw and deescalate the tension, including:-

  • Kenya wants Somalia to pull down a map she had showcased at an economic forum in London showing the disputed triangle as Somalia’s
  • Kenya currently wants Somalia to inform the investors that she doesn’t claim the oil blocks and therefore has no jurisdiction to strike a deal on them
  • And finally, Kenya suggests that, a maritime discussion between the two nations to arrive at an amicable solution outside the international court.

After Kenya presents these provocative demands, many political commentators said, if Somalia responses equally, then, the situation becomes inexorable and inevitable. Fortunately, Somalia demonstrates political maturity, and said a statement released by the Somalia foreign ministry that, Somalia is ready to cooperate with her neighboring Kenya to thrash out and bounce back the diplomatic tiff between the two countries through an amicable solution.

And added that, Somalia is not now offering, nor does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the parties’ maritime boundary is decided by the ICJ. This political ripe presented by the Somalia government delighted many people. Because, Somalia is currently fragile state, and is recovering gradually. And these diplomatic and even-keeled words were not expecting many people. Dude!


Kenya has accused Somalia of auctioning disputed zones in the Indian Ocean with oil and gas

Uhuru visits Addis.

Friday march1, this year, president Uhuru visited the capital city of Ethiopia Addis-Ababa in order to enhance and create vigorous and rock solid relations among the two east African countries. As His Excellency president Uhuru publishes his official twitter account, the essence of the meeting was to expedite Kenya-Ethiopia High Level Trade and Investment Forum. But, some political pundits believe that, the two leaders also discussed the deteriorating relations between Somalia and Kenya for the last months towards the maritime contention.  


The new tripartite summit among Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea creates doubt to Somalia!

Last Sunday 03,03 this year, the leaders of these respected countries met in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea for promoting the regional developments and the togetherness among them, as published his official twitter account the Eritrean minister Yemane Meskel. Previously, there was a tripartite summit between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea. And this emerging and sickening new summit may contradict the old one.

Farmajo goes astounding visit briskly to Addis!

His Excellency incumbent president Farmajo went in Addis-Ababa 05/03, two days from now on , where he received his host prime minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, in order to accelerate bilateral and trilateral regional cooperation, and the mutual interests of both states as pervaded the official twitter of the office of the Ethiopian prime minister-Ethiopia.

Since Abiy takes the office April last year, he becomes pioneer and hustler to expedite cooperation and togetherness among the horn of Africa region. Some political analysts said that, president Uhuru was lobbying to solicit support from the region about the Somali-Kenya maritime dispute, so that is why president Farmajo went impromptu to Ethiopia. At the end of the two leaders’ talks, they released this statement:-

  • Strengthening of regional peace and security per the agreements signed previously
  • Mechanisms to ensure Kenya-Somali relations are strengthened
  • Continuation of joint port development
  • Ensuring that relations with between the administration of Somaliland and Somalia is in support of regional peace

So, if we mull over and immerse profoundly this statement, we can extract that, Abiy is emboldening and stimulating Kenya and Somalia to reach out an agreement towards their latest maritime dispute. Also, Abiy remembers Farmajo, the agreement reached the two countries when Abiy visits Mogadishu 16, June last year which is, Ethiopia is going to invest the Somalia’s ports.

Though, Somalia’s parliament didn’t approve this agreement between Ethiopia and Somalia. Additionally, Abiy persists to have a close relationship with Somaliland, and this intrusive and provocative action languishes and paralyzes Somalia’s sovereignty and role towards the region. Dude!


Abiy invites Bihi to instigate and freak out Farmajo!

Somaliland president went in Addis-Ababa after he receives an official invitation from the Ethiopian leader Atto Dr. Abiy Ahmed 21st Feb, this year. Statement from Somaliland presidency media announced the two leaders talked about trade, ports utilization and other economic ties and security cooperation. Additionally, the two leaders discussed resuming the talks between Somalia and Somaliland.

Furthermore, According to deal announced late last year, Ethiopia will hold a 19 per cent shareholder in the Port of Berbera, with DP World controlling 51 per cent stake in the project and Somaliland holding the remaining 30 per cent. Moreover, The Ethiopian government is also investing in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway for the landlocked nation. Currently, Ethiopia is one of the fast tracking countries economically in the world.

In March 12, last year, the Somali parliament, especially House of the People nullified with majority vote, 168 out of 170 votes, the Berbera port deal entered into by Ethiopia, semi-autonomous Somaliland and DP world, and also banned the DP world company to work in Somalia. This step augmented the feud among Somalia and Somaliland.

Also, it created a diplomatic rupture between Somalia and UAE, which ultimately leads to cut Somalia its ties with UAE. Ostensibly, Abiy’s invitation to Somaliland seems diluting and dwindling Farmajo’s ego. Because, president Farmajo evokes and announces famously and publicly that, he depleted the relationship among Ethiopia and Somalia’ semi autonomous and the self-proclaimed independent state of Somaliland. Dude! , so this outstanding agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland deters and fizzles out Farmajo’s endeavors towards the region.

Abiy moderates Uhuru and Farmajo

The three leaders landed yesterday 06/03 Jomo Kenyatta Airport-Nairobi, in order to resolve the maritime contention between Somalia and Kenya which was worsening and getting resilient for the last months. As said president Farmajo’s official twitter “The president’s main objective is to restore and strengthen diplomatic relations with the Republic of Kenya.

According to the Kenya and Ethiopia media including Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) pervaded that, the three leaders discussed how to resolve the deteriorating maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya. But, regrettably, the Somali media released red herring which obfuscated the mass. They said plainly, the two countries agreed upon to resume the diplomatic relations devoid of talking the maritime loggerheads and dichotomy.

Kenya demands quid pro quo to restore the tie, but Somalia demands nothing tantamount!

According to the tension between Somalia and Kenya, which is about the maritime contention, with the Abiy mediation, Kenya demands to withdraw Somalia its maritime case from the ICJ in order to restore her diplomatic relation with Somalia. But, Somalia insists to wait the decision of International Court of Justice (ICJ). Somalia prevails, the first hearing of the case which was taken place in 19-23 September last year, in accordance with the application filed by Somalia in August 2014. The court will handle the second hearing during this year, roughly, mid June.

Somalia Maritime Law February 1959

Somalia’s maritime code, especially Article one (Territorial Sea) clarifies; the sovereignty of the territory embraces the zone of the sea to the distance of six nautical miles along the continental and insular coasts. The above distance is measured from the coastline marked by the low tide.

The different provisions which might be established by laws, regulations, or international agreements for definite purposes are hereby excluded.

In 1966 Decree Law, which runs to 64 Article, also amended many of the provisions the 1959  Code, including  Article 1 of the Code (Territorial Sea) which was changed from previous three (3) nautical miles to twelve (12) nautical miles . (temporary urgent laws issued by the President under Article 63 of the 1960 Constitution) had to be approved by the National Assembly so they can become Law and the conversion of the 1966 Decree Law was done under Law No. 3 of 7 January 1967, which incidentally also amended Article 4, 9 and 12 of the 1966 Decree Law. The 12 nautical Miles territorial sea (set under the 1966 Decree Law) was changed by the  The Territorial Sea and Ports Law 1972, which, under Article 1(1), extended it to ‘200 nautical miles’.

UNCLOS and Somalia

Somalia is one of the signatories of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea on 10 December 1982 at the Montego Bay Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. And ratified it later under  Law No. 14 of 9 February 1989.

Way forward

  • Somalia-Kenya relations should remain intact and resolute
  • Both neighboring countries should eschew and stay away hog washing and push backing each other until ICJ decision has been unleashed.
  • The brotherly and sisterly countries should apply conscientious during this hotspot issues in order to thwart to conflagrate and fuel a fire the case.
  • There is an immense need for coolheaded, even-keeled and arduous during this panic period.

Anwar Abdifatah