The International Court of Justice, based at The Hague, will review Kenya’s plea for a 12-month delay of public hearing in a maritime boundary case filed by Somalia once again next week.
Kenya and Somalia are fighting over a disputed 62,000-square-mile (100,000-square kilometer) oil and mineral-rich land in the Indian Ocean in the shape of a triangle that both nations claim.
On Thursday, Kenya’s Office of the Attorney-General appealed the Court to grant a year’s postponement in order to prepare for the case. The ICJ had initially postponed the hearing for two-months. The hearing that was earlier scheduled for September 9 was moved to November 4 this year.
Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Nation the time previously granted by the Court would not be enough for Nairobi to prepare. Kamau is currently in The Hague where he accompanied Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto and other state counsel.
“It is the same request for the 12-month postponement that was being revisited at the invitation of the acting president of the case because we only got 55 days last time which is simply unworkable for Kenya,” he said.
Kamau said he expects the court’s decision on the new request should come very soon. The Kenya government is seeking for an out of court settlement.
The Somalia government has opposed Kenya’s request from the start.
“Due to exceptional circumstances, occasioned by the need to recruit a new defence team, Kenya has sought to have the matter postponed,” AG Kihara Kariuki’s office said in September when Kenya had asked the ICJ to delay the case, arguing it needed time to recruit a new legal team.
“The Rules of the Court allows for postponement of the hearing of the case to afford the parties an opportunity to be represented.”
Mahdi Gulaid, Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister, said the two-month extension should have been sufficient for Kenya to prepare for the case.