Kenya withdrew from an International Court of Justice case on a maritime-border dispute with neighboring Somalia, and is seeking for the matter be resolved by the African Union.
“We withdrew,” Kenya’s Solicitor General Ken Ogeto said by phone. “We don’t want to appear symbolically. You appear because you think you’ll have justice.”
Kenya announced its withdrawal on Monday as proceedings got under way about who owns an area off the two nations’ Indian Ocean coastline. Both countries plan to explore the area for oil, gas and fish.
The issue “belongs in the African border dispute mechanism system,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said in an interview earlier. Kenya favors “bilateral negotiations and continental negotiations in the context of facilitation by the African Union,” rather than seeking a settlement at the court, he said.
In 2014, Somalia went to court to challenge a 2009 agreement that set its maritime border along latitudinal lines extending 450 nautical miles into the sea. The matter relating to a 150,000 square-kilometer (58,000 square-mile) off the coastline was postponed at the ICJ for a third time last May due to the coronavirus pandemic. Kenya’s request for further delays was unsuccessful.
Somalia is “deeply concerned that Kenya has decided not to appear at these hearings,” Somali Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Gulaid said at the ICJ. “Somalia’s view, this is inconsistent with Kenya’s obligations under the charter, the statutes and rules of the court.”