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Bid to bar Kenya from ICJ maritime case with Somalia flops

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Bid to bar Kenya from ICJ maritime case with Somalia flops

Somalia and Kenya are involved in a border
Somalia and Kenya are involved in a border dispute at the International Court of Justice in the Hague over an area in the Indian Ocean about 100,000 square kilometres, which is said to contain hydrocarbons reserves. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The High Court has dismissed a petition to bar Kenya from participating before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a maritime dispute with Somalia.

Justices Kanyi Kimondo, Robert Limo and Anthony Mrima noted on Friday that issues raised in the petition by 20 Kenyans would be more effectively resolved through diplomatic, legislative, policy and other executive interventions, rather than by a constitutional decision.

This means Kenya will not withdraw from the maritime case.

The 20 petitioners had argued that the Attorney-General’s participation in the case would amount to ceding Kenya’s sovereignty.

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Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, they said Kenya risked forfeiting part of its territory if the ICJ ruled in Somalia’s favour.

The lawyer said the government should put its national interests first, and that the only way to do so would be by not seeking to compromise Kenya’s territorial integrity.

The ruling stated, however, that, “the AG’s participation in the proceedings will accord an opportunity to demonstrate to the court Kenya’s constitutional impediments in implementation of the decision in the event the dispute is decided in favour of Somalia.”

Kenya has argued, however, that the case should not be heard at the ICJ, which it says is rigid and may not resolve political issues attached to the case.

It has in stead approached the African Union, seeking out-of-court negotiations.

Last October, the ICJ pushed the case to June 8, 2020, following a request by Kenya.

In September 2019, Kenya asked for a delay by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team.

The court granted Kenya’s request but warned that there will be no further delays.

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