Kenya-Somalia maritime border spat earns lawyers Sh300m
Monday, May 13, 2019 21:33
By SAM KIPLAGAT
Lawyers are emerging the biggest beneficiaries in the maritime boundary fight between Kenya and Somalia with revelations that the Treasury paid Sh300 million to Nairobi’s legal team handling the dispute.
Revised estimates for the current year show that the budget for Kenya’s legal services will increase to Sh2 billion from Sh1.7 billion on account of the Somalia spat.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague is considering a claim on their maritime boundaries brought by Somalia in 2014 after negotiations over the 100,000 sq km stretch of sea floor broke down.
“Increase is on account of provision for legal fees for maritime delimitation between Kenya and Somalia,” said Treasury in revised budget estimates tabled in Parliament last week in reference to Sh300.9 million rise.
Nairobi has all along insisted that the boundary is determined by a parallel line to the East set by colonial powers.
Somalia, however, says the boundary extends to the southeast as an extension of its land border.
If Mogadishu wins the case, a large swathe of Kenya’s land will fall in the hands of Somalia. Cases at the ICJ, which rules on disputes between states over international treaties, can last many years.
Its rulings are binding, though the court has no enforcement powers and countries have been known to ignore its verdicts.
The boundary row has affected oil and gas explorations works in the roughly triangular area of contested ocean.
In February, Kenya recalled its ambassador to Somalia after the Mogadishu government’s decision to auction oil and gas exploration blocks at the centre of a maritime territorial dispute in the Indian Ocean.
Kenya said it had raised concerns with the Somali government a day before the auction.