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Kenya-Somalia Maritime Dispute: Who Owns the Oil Beneath the Indian Ocean?

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A maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya has sparked diplomatic crisis between the two east African countries, a move that could threaten stability in the region and dwindle the fight against al Shabab.

The two neighbours are engaged in a border dispute in the Indian Ocean, a 100 square kilometres triangle rich in oil and gas. Kenya has accused Somalia of auctioning part of its oil blocks in the Indian Ocean to Western oil firms during an oil conference in London in February. Somalia denied Kenya’s allegations, and said the conference was meant to present the results of seismic surveys and showcase possible locations in the country where oil reserves can be extracted in the future. After the London event, Kenya ordered Somalia’s ambassador in Nairobi to leave the country and recalled its ambassador in Mogadishu.

Both Somalia and Kenya claim ownership of the 100km2 area in the Indian Ocean. In 2014, Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Nairobi of encroaching part of its territory. Kenya tried to persuade Somalia to withdraw the case from the ICJ and settle the dispute of the court, but Somalia rejected Kenya’s plea.

Somalia wants the maritime boundary to run southeast as an extension of the land border while Kenya says the border should run eastwards following the line of latitude. The ICJ is expected to deliver a judgment later this year.

If Somalia wins the ICJ ruling, Kenya will respect the ruling but will maintain its hostile actions until something happens to restore its dented ego like a negotiated truce by another country.

Kenya is likely to appeal the ruling for various reasons including the fact that both countries need to have agreed to refer the matter to ICJ, but Somalia went it alone. If Kenya wins, which is unlikely, Somalia will likely welcome the judgement.

The case was to be heard in September initially, but was postponed to November following a request by Kenya. The ICJ may also review another request made by Kenya for a 12-month delay of the public hearing. Last week, Kenya’s Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki asked the court to grant a year’s postponement, which Nairobi thinks would be sufficient time to prepare. Somalia has always opposed to the postponement.

 

In May, ties between the two deteriorated after Kenya suspended direct flights between Mogadishu and Nairobi, and ordered all flights from Somalia to land at Wajir Airport in northeast of the country for security checks before heading to Nairobi, and denied Somali government officials entry into the country after arriving at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. The officials were due to attend a European Union-sponsored cross-border conflict management summit.

The Somali representatives were holding diplomatic passports, and were expecting a visa on arrival. But Kenya said they must get visas from its embassy in Mogadishu.

Somalia retaliated by banning government officials from participating any meeting held in Kenya and ordered Non-Governmental Organisations that operate in Somalia but based in Nairobi to relocate to Mogadishu.

Most UN and Western organisations including humanitarian agencies operating in the Horn of Africa nation are based in Nairobi.

The dispute between Somalia and Kenya could scale down security cooperation and the fights against terrorism.

The diplomatic crisis could jeopardise the security cooperation between Kenya and Somalia which will be a big boon for al-Shabab, which is a pain in the neck for both countries. Mogadishu and Nairobi can ill afford to take their eyes off the ball – Al- Shabab, their common enemy, and waste their energy on resolvable diplomatic disputes.

Somalia is battling al-Shabab, a terror group affiliated to al-Qaeda, which wants to overthrow the internationally-backed government and impose its own interpretation of Islamic sharia.

The group has been driven out of major towns including the capital, Mogadishu, but it still has the ability to conduct high profile attacks in Somalia and beyond, Kenya being the most vulnerable. This year, al- Shabab conducted a number of attacks inside Kenya including an assault on an upmarket hotel in Nairobi in January that killed 21 people, and another in June near the border with Somalia, targeting a police vehicle with a landmine, killing eight police officers.

Kenya has thousands of troops in Somalia under the African Union mission supporting Mogadishu’s fight against al-Shabab.

If the diplomatic row persists, it could affect security operations, slowing down the fight against al-Shabab in southern Somalia where Kenyan troops are based, give rise to nationalist sentiments in both countries, putting Somali refugees and Somali-owned business in Kenya in danger, and al-Shabab may use it as a recruitment tool.

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Geopolitics

Why is no one buying modern Chinese fighter jets?

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Not many countries are currently buying Chinese fighter jets because they want a sure thing when they go into combat. China has ambitions to become a major player in the military aviation market. With aircraft like the J-31 stealth fighter, China hopes to provide a lower-cost alternative to the popular US F-35 stealth fighter.

China has made incredible progress but has an uphill battle in challenging the F-35 with the J-31. The US has been designing, testing, manufacturing, and improving stealth fighters for over 40 years and has already built and flown a 6th generation fighter. China is the new kid on the block, and they are quickly overtaking Russia in aviation technology.

China lacks a significant combat and sales record for their aircraft. Although Chinese aircraft are less expensive than western fighters, their combat performance is a question mark and countries with money prefer to buy a fighter that has been mass produced, tested in multiple countries, and is combat tested. China may be the new kid on the block, but they are highly capable and on a fast pace to challenge competitors with advanced technology.

 

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Politics

Kenya presidential candidate promises to hang men who abuse wives

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Roots Party of Kenya presidential candidate George Wajackoyah says his government has ideal plans in place to end gender-based violence.

Should he win the presidency, Wajackoyah said he will introduce the death penalty for men who will be found guilty of abusing their wives.

While campaigning in Kirinyaga, the presidential hopeful said his government will hang men who slap their other halves. Apart from abusive men, the learned politician had initially said he would reintroduce capital punishment for corruption offenders through constitutional review.

During the Sunday, June 12 rally, Wajackoyah, whose campaign slogan is Tingiza Miti literally means to shake the trees, said he will also improve the lives of men in uniform. He noted that he was a policeman before and so he understands their predicament. Should he win the presidency, he promised to buy each policeman a car and house so that they do not solicit bribes from people. He also pledged to improve their salaries. The 61-year-old academician said his main aim will be to ensure people have money in their pockets and are happy.

 

 

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Politics

A weed-loving professor is seeking Kenya’s presidency

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Presidential aspirant George Luchiri Wajackoyah, 61, has kicked off his Campaigns on a ‘high’ note promising corrupt judicial officers that he will hang them.

Besides relocating the capital city from Nairobi to North Eastern region, the Roots Party aspirant said he will also suspend the constitution for six months so as to launch a conversation with Kenyans on how to entrench the death penalty in the laws of the land as well as legalise industrial marijuana.

“Judiciary is one of the biggest stumbling block in realising aspirations of a prosperous nation. I will adopt a style whereby if you suspect yourself to be corrupt, we encourage you to kill yourself or if we try you and you are convicted, you be killed,” he said.

He said the ideality of moving the capital to say, Isiolo will open up the northern frontiers as administrative capital, freeing Nairobi to be an industrial hub.

Saying “I am not all that stupid,” Wajackoyah dismissed the motion that he is a joker and a nuisance contestant, saying that “those discriminatory traits are so irking.”

He took issue with the Infotrak pollster results released on Wednesday showing his competitors– Raila Odinga and Dr William Ruto– as the only serious candidates, ignoring him and Mwaure Waihiga by according them no rating.

Wajackoyah, who was accompanied on Citizen TV by his 35 year old running mate–Justina Wangui Wamae said on July 2, they will be releasing their 12-point manifesto to drive their state house bid.

She said she does not smoke bhang “despite our ticket being widely accused of exhibiting signs of its users.”

Mr Wajackoyah says introducing industrial hemp will help pay off the debt.

In an interview on Wednesday night on Citizen TV, Mr Wajackoyah argued that if Kenyans are allowed to grow bhang for export, that would likely increase money circulation in the economy, claiming that a sack can be sold for $3.2 million.

“The solution is growing marijuana, which will enable this country to [pay its] outstanding debts. Have enough money, have enough money for all Kenyans. And if one sack of marijuana is $3.2 million, if you convert that into Kenyan currencies, it is a lot,” he said.

He said there should be no worries about finding a market for the marijuana.

“We are going to export it, not import it. We’re going to grow it and export it. I’m just back from the United States and Canada during my research and trust me, there are so many companies … telling me please we have the market ready here in Canada,” he said.

He said marijuana, which he claimed he has never smoked, remains the country’s gold that needs to be exploited to catalyse the nation’s economic growth.

Mr Wajackoyah also said farming snakes will help supply venom for the manufacture of medicines and for export.

“A lot of people are bitten by snakes in this country and we have to wait for snake doses from outside the country through pharmaceutical corporations,” he said, adding that one way of paying off the national debt “more so those of Chinese is by extracting snake venoms for them”.

e Kenyans free medical services. We are also going to create more employment opportunities,” she said.

Citing countries without written constitutions, Mr Wajackoyah took a jab at the Judiciary, saying that it is the biggest impediment in Kenya’s democratic growth.

“We have countries like Israel, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom which don’t have written constitutions. They welcome conventions,” he said.

 

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