Kenya continues to reject the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on its long-disputed maritime boundary with Somalia.
The dispute has been dragging on for years, with access to potential oil and gas acreage forming the heart of the disagreement.
Both sides agreed to take their dispute to the ICJ in 2014, although Nairobi had always been reluctant to accept the court as an independent arbiter and wanted instead to negotiate a deal with Somalia.
The ICJ concluded two weeks ago that there was never an agreed maritime boundary between the two East African nations and demarcated a line that gave Somalia the larger slice of the disputed 100,000-square-kilometre area.
At the time, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta rejected the ruling — which the court cannot enforce — saying it would place unnecessary stress on relations between the countries and claiming the ICJ “had neither jurisdiction nor competence” to make a decision on the dispute.
He said the ruling “will strain the relations between the two countries [and] will also reverse the social, political and economic gains; and potentially aggravate the peace and security situation in the fragile Horn of Africa region”.
Kenyatta argued that Kenya “possesses a determined geographical territory” and beseeched “the rest of the family of nations to appreciate and respect our inherent right to protect, by all available means, our territory”.
However, he stressed that Kenya was “committed to finding a diplomatic solution to the current impasse”.
Late last week, according to Somalia's Radio Dalsan, Kenyatta reinforced his government’s position, saying: “On many occasions, we have experienced territorial aggressions to the sanctity of our borders.
“But the message of our founding fathers to these aggressors was simple — not an inch less, not an inch more. And this is the message that must reverberate across the collective quarters that are bent on annexing any part of ... Kenya.”
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed described the ICJ ruling as an “historic victory after the long struggle by the people and the government of Somalia against the unlawful attempts by the Kenyan government to claim parts of our maritime territory”.
Analysts at South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said the ruling “effectively rejected most of Kenya’s claims”, which were based on what Nairobi called Somalia’s “tacit consent” of Kenya’s claim, arguing that Mogadishu never seriously objected to these proclamations.
The institute suggested that if Nairobi still refuses to abide by the court ruling, the two governments could negotiate a joint development zone if they “are willing to build trust, restore relations and explore the possibilities”.
However, it said, “this won’t be easy, considering that Kenya — anticipating an unfavourable decision [from the ICJ] — indicated it would have serious objections to the outcome even before it was made”.
The ISS suggested “the international community may pressure Kenya, perhaps behind closed doors, to accept the verdict and avoid undermining key institutions and principles anchoring the Law of the Sea.”