East Africa: Somalia President Pours Cold Water On Kenya's Call for Talks

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, moments before addressing the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly's seventy-fourth session.
26 September 2019

New York — Somalia President Mohamed Farmajo Thursday used his inaugural address to the United Nations to reject Kenya's call for maritime boundary dispute.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said had earlier said he was open to anything, though emphasizing on dialogue as the best option to find a solution.

"I have always believed and stood my ground that dialogue is the best and amicable way for finding the best and positive solution. This brings us together as opposed to a conflict that pushes away from each other," Mr Kenyatta said.

The two are fighting over maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.

Mr Farmajo said the matter was in court and that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) should be the ultimate arbiter because the talks between the two countries that were held earlier collapsed completely.

He said said the bilateral negotiations did not achieve an agreement in the past to obtain peaceful cohesion in 2014, in conformity with international law, Somalia instituted proceedings before the ICJ, the highest legal authority of the United Nations.


"We are very pleased that the court found that it had jurisdiction to resolve the dispute and that is scheduled for the final hearing for the merit case in November this year," he said.

Somalia being a member of the United Nations and a party to the statue of the court, Mr Farmajo said they are committed to seeing this judicial settlement process until its end in court.

Somalia, he said, will comply with the court's final judgment and accept the outcome on the boundary that is delimiting by the court.

The firm-talking president added that as a matter of international law, the court's judgment will be binding on Kenya as well.

"We trust that when that judgment will be issued and the boundary established, a lasting settlement of this long-lasting dispute will finally be achieved. We are will abide by the court ruling," he said.

This was the first time Mr Farmaajo was addressing the UN General Assembly after his election in 2017.


It appeared that podium which was full of Somalia citizens offered the best opportunity for him to play both domestic and regional politics on the maritime row.

Domestically, many Somalis had been questioning his commitment to defending Somalia's territorial integrity, especially after holding the much-publicised meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Regionally, he was to respond to Africa Unions encouragement that they negotiate the dispute as part of African solutions for African problems which he rejected.

Mr Faamajo got crowds support when he said that the AU had no capacity and is not empowered to intervene in the case that is before the court as stipulated by Peace and Security Council during their September 2019 meeting.

Mr Kenyatta on the other hand side that African Union Peace and Security Council in September 2019 gave them a go-ahead to engage and negotiate.

This is after the two presidents were brought together by Egypt's President Abdelfattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly convention, this was the first step to normalise relations between the two sides.


In their first face-to-face meeting since March, the two leaders discussed relations, which have recently gone cold as they fight over the flow maritime boundary.

Mr Farmajo acknowledged that the meeting was very fruitful though he is not going to withdraw the case from court.

"We agreed to restore our good relationships in strengthening diplomatic and political cooperation and live the maritime dispute between the two countries to be resolved by the International Court of Justice."

He said Somalia is committed to maintaining a good relationship with Kenya provided that the boundary is solved in court.

"I would like to further report that the emerging of the 74th United Nations meeting are very fruitful and that we will continue to be very good friends," Farmajo said during his address.

The decision is believed to be politically instigated and may impact the 2021 elections results.

"If he accepts to go the dialogue way, he might lose the election for 2021. There are forces behind this and it is not politically sound for him to accept dialogue. It will not go well with the people of Somalia who are mounting pressure on him to take Kenyans to court," said a source privy to the information in his government.

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