18 February 2019

Somalia: 'We've Not Sold Kenya Oil Blocks,' Says Somalia

Photo: allafrica.com
From left: Recalled Kenya's envoy to Somalia Lieutenant-General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo and expelled Somali envoy to Kenya Mohamoud Ahmed Nur alias Tarzan.

Somalia has denied auctioning Kenya's potential maritime zones that are in dispute at the International Court of Justice,

The country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday night that it is ready and willing to cooperate with Kenya in finding an amicable solution to the crisis that has caused a diplomatic tiff between the two countries.

"Somalia is not now offering, nor does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the parties' maritime boundary is decided by the ICJ," the statement said.

Kenya has already recalled Ambassador Lucas Tumbo and sent away Somalia's ambassador back home for consultations.

The Somalia government however, said "it regrets Kenya's decision to instruct her ambassador to depart Kenya without prior consultation."

Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said the decision was taken after Somalia unilaterally auctioned off oil and gas blocks in contested maritime zones in the Indian Ocean.

With the denial, Somalia has now said it is "committed to continuing to work hard in close cooperation with its brothers and sisters in Kenya to address pressing issues confronting both nations and the region."

On Saturday, Kenya termed the decision by Somalia to auction the disputed maritime blocks as "unparalleled affront" and vowed that the "illegal grab" will not go unanswered.

"This outrageous and provocative auction deserves and will be met with a unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans as well as all people of goodwill who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and the peaceful and legal resolution of disputes," PS Kamau said in a statement.

According to Nairobi, Somalia auctioned the contentious blocks to the "highest predatory" bidders from the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Norway after a map showing the area in question belonging to Somalia was shown at a London conference.

Kamau said Nairobi protested by sending an official diplomatic protest letter (demarches) to the Ambassador of Somalia in Kenya with a copy sent to Ambassador Tumbo for onward forwarding to the Government of Somalia.

"It is, therefore, most regretful that the Government of Kenya has now arrived at the conclusion that its protest and demands that Kenya sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected, have been ignored."

"The Government of Kenya cannot and will not standby as its demarches are ignored and its territorial integrity is infringed upon and its sovereign resources are carved out and shared out by an ungracious and unbrotherly neighbour acting to satisfy the greed of commercial interest resident in foreign land."

There was a sense of betrayal in the statement with Nairobi reminding Mogadishu how Kenya has stood by the troubled neighbour by sending its armed forces to support Somali's army to fight Al Shabaab.

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