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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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Politics

Joho wants to be Raila’s running mate

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Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho is demanding to be picked as Mr Raila Odinga’s running mate in this year’s presidential election to return a favour to him and the Coastal people who have been supporting the ODM leader for close to two decades.

Governor Joho, who is also the ODM deputy party leader and who dropped his bid to contest as the party’s flagbearer in the August 2022 General Election in favour of Mr Odinga, is now asking the party to pick him as a running mate in the coming elections.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

“But I am telling Mr Odinga that if they continue bugging him, he can pick me as his running mate. I am capable of becoming a deputy president. For 10 years, I have been a two-term governor but I will soon become a normal citizen. But I cannot thank you enough, my good people,” he said while bidding farewell to Mombasa residents at the Mama Ngina Waterfront on New Year’s eve.

Mr Odinga is yet to name his preferred running mate.

Mr Joho is eying a national leadership position after ending his final term as governor.

In September last year, Mr Joho dropped his presidential bid in favour of his party leader after he was promised an influential Cabinet position.

He says he is ready to retire from local politics to join the national arena.

While giving his New Year message, the Mombasa governor said he will contest for the presidency in the 2027 General Election.

“This time around I am not on the ballot but I am drumming up support for Mr Odinga. But 2027 will be my year; I will vie for the top seat. Were it not for my people’s support I wouldn’t have become who I am today. I give you thanks. I love my people so much,” he said.

He added, “I will not be here after the polls, but I don’t take it for granted that for the 10 years I have been at the helm, you have been with me wholeheartedly, supporting and loving me. I love you very much Mombasa people.”

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Somali premier forms committee to investigate ‘attempted coup’

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Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble has appointed a special committee to investigate his attempted suspension by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, local media report.

On Monday, Farmaajo suspended Roble from his duties as he was under investigation for suspected corruption.

The prime minister’s office called the decision a “failed coup d’etat” and Roble accused the president of trying to sabotage upcoming elections to remain in office and urged the armed forces to report directly to the government.

The committee includes close allies of the prime minister, such as the ministers of defense, security, education and public works.

Earlier this week, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Moussa Faki Mahamat urged the Somali authorities to engage in dialogue to find ways of ending the political crisis in the country.

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I am not power hungry, says Raila

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ODM leader Raila Odinga has dismissed claims that he is looking for political fame and power to benefit himself.

Raila said his only aim is to uproot the corrupted system of governance and establish a strong foundation for socioeconomic and political growth for country.

“I don’t dream of staying in power forever but I want to live good leadership for the future generation to come,” he said.

Raila said he is energy is projected towards improving the lives of the citizens by eradicating poverty through proper education, a health system and a platform for massive investments.

The ODM leader said it is a pity that many years have passed yet illiteracy, poverty and diseases are still an issue of concern despite having plenty of resources to exterminate them.

He said the time has come for Kenya to devise new ways of tapping investments and creating employment opportunities for the benefit of every citizen and not a few individuals.

Raila said he wants to increase food and nutrition security by setting up improved water and agricultural projects.

He told locals to reject wheelbarrows and choose a government that will ensure enough and respectable jobs are provided.

“Don’t be told that Kazi Ni Kazi, we want you to have good employment, not just a job,” he said.

Raila said he will ensure that each Kenyan has access to cheap and affordable healthcare services.

He spoke on Wednesday spoke at Matuga Girls’ High School in Kwale county during his Azimio La Umoja popularization campaign.

Raila promised the locals that he will improve the fishing systems and set industries for processing and value addition for the fish produced locally.

He said Kwale has vast resources lying dormant that have not yet been fully exploited.

The ODM boss said with the right leadership the unstable economy can be resuscitated and stabilized.

Raila said he will address the prolonged Kwale water shortages and capacitate local farmers to produce enough food.

He said countries like Namibia, Brazil and Egypt are doing great because they have better development plans and Kenya is no exception.

Raila assured locals that his dream is valid and applicable if only given an opportunity.

He warned citizens against being bought on cheap money and remain strong to realize their dreams of making Kenya a better place.

Raila also cautioned locals to shun tribal politics and embrace peaceful coexistence.

He said Kenyans must live together as one and appreciate all gender for the country’s prosperity.

“Let’s not alienate ourselves on tribal, religious or gender,” he said.

Former Gatanga MP Peter Kenneth said Raila was the leader Kenya is longing to have.

He said Raila is loyal and focused and the solution to the country’s many problems.

“Leadership is not about chest-thumping and Raila is not like that, with him Kenya is in the right place,” he said.

Kenneth urged locals to vet leaders before blindly electing them to power.

Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga said Raila’s agendas reflect the needs of the Kwale residents.

He warned locals against choosing unproductive and visionless leaders whose main agenda are empty talks.

In the morning Raila had a closed-door meeting with ODM grassroots leaders and welcomed new members to the party in Diani.

The ODM team officialy welcomed former Kinango MP Gonzi Rai in the party.

Source: The Frontier and The Star.

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