Kenya Seeks Delay in Hearing on Ocean Dispute

Commercial, geopolitical and internal players behind Kenya-Somalia standoff.

The Kenyan government is seeking to postpone a hearing on a maritime dispute with Somalia, according to a diplomatic source.

Both countries claim control over a 100,000-square-kilometer area in the Indian Ocean that is said to be rich in natural resources.

The source told VOA's Somali service that Kenya has requested a one-year postponement of the case in order to install a new legal team. The hearing was set to take place next week from Sept. 9-13 at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Kenya's Daily Nation newspaper also reported Kenya's request to have the case delayed "so as to have time to recruit [a] new defense team."

According to the source, the Somali government has rejected Kenya's last-minute request.

Kenya has engaged in a diplomatic effort to have the dispute heard outside the ICJ, possibly by the African Union. Somalia has insisted that it wants the top international judicial body to settle the case.

Somalia originally filed the case at the ICJ in August 2014 after negotiations with its East African neighbor failed. Kenya has launched a preliminary objection to ICJ's jurisdiction over the case, but the court rejected the objection.

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