Somalia is opposed to Kenya’s request for a fourth delay to hearings of a maritime border dispute between the two nations at the International Court of Justice.
“After we found out that Kenya wants the case postponed, this morning we sent a letter to the ICJ stating that the Somali government would never accept a fourth postponement,” Somalia Information Minister Osman Abukar Dube told reporters in Mogadishu on Thursday.
Kenya asked for a postponement because it wants in person proceedings, said Ken Ogeto, the country’s Solicitor General.
“This is a complex case that requires proper presentation. We have maps, documents that need to be illustrated in court. This would not be possible in a virtual hearing,” he said. For such a serious matter to be heard virtually would be “unfair and prejudicial to Kenya” Ogeto said.
The matter was postponed for a third time last May due to the coronavirus pandemic and is scheduled to be heard between March 15 and 19.
The parties are seeking a resolution on the ownership of a 150,000 square-kilometer (58,000 square-mile) area off their Indian Ocean coastline, which both countries want to explore for oil, gas and fish.
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.
Diplomatic relations between the two eastern African nations soured in 2019 after Kenya accused Somalia of auctioning four offshore oil blocks in a disputed offshore area, an allegation Somalia denied. In October 2019, Somalia summoned Kenya’s ambassador after a Kenyan-registered aircraft landed without permission in Jubaland