By T. Roble
Kenya has stood ground that Somalia is intent on auctioning oil blocks on its territory adding it would ‘not cede an inch’ despite Somalia’s response on the contrary.
In a statement Thursday following a cabinet meeting, Foreign Affairs minister, Monica Juma reiterated last week’s accusation against Somalia that the Horn of Africa nation had out up oil blocks on the Kenyan side for prospective buyers during the February 7 meeting in London.
Somalia, Ms Juma said ‘had misled Kenya’ in its response last week noting the presentation to investors early this month contained timelines which would culminate into Production Sharing Agreements early next year.
“Contrary to the assertion by Somalia in her Note Verbale, the presentation contains critical dates that indicate that the tendering and bidding period will be completed by the 12th of September, 2019 and final results published,” the statement read in part.
According to Ms Juma, Somalia did not deny her country’s assertion that it auctioned Kenyan oil blocks.
“Somalia has not denied existence of the maps that Kenya complained about. If anything, Somalia has reasserted her claim over the same area,” said Juma.
In its response last week following a protest by Kenya, Somalia said it did not present any maps covering the contested boundary and that there was no auctioning of oil blocks during the London conference.
“Somalia is not now offering, nor does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the parties’ boundaries are decided by the ICJ,” the Somali foreign ministry said.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is expected to hear the maritime case this year following submissions of counter-memorial by Kenya last December.
The latest protest from Nairobi is likely to exacerbate an already fluid diplomatic situation between the two neighbouring countries. The exchange also signifies a deep mistrust by Nairobi on Mogadishu despite the latter’s position that it did not touch the contested areas.
Fielding questions from journalists in a press conference Thursday, Ms Juma accused Somalia of failing to abide by the commitments to the ICJ to leave out the contested areas in any transaction until the ruling of the UN top court is delivered.
“Why now? “I don’t; know because this case is in court. There was an undertaking in both ways that we would not do anything that would obstruct or that would try to shape the trajectory of the case in ICJ.”
Ms. Juma also revisited the 2009 MoU between the two countries noting the agreement which was upheld by the ICJ in the February 2, 2017 preliminary ruling remains the best possible option to resolve the maritime row.