East Africa: Court Awards Somalia Bulk of Indian Ocean Territory Also Claimed By Kenya

(file photo).

Nairobi — The International Court of Justice has drawn a maritime boundary between Kenya and Somalia after the countries failed for years to reach agreement on the issue.

The court's ruling Tuesday, seen as favorable to Somalia, is almost certain to be rejected by Kenya. The ruling concerns about 100,000 square kilometers of Indian Ocean waters off the east coast of Kenya and Somalia.

The area, believed to hold oil and natural gas deposits, has been a source of dispute between the East African neighbors for years.

The court awarded Somalia the bulk of the territory, while adjusting the border slightly northward to address Kenya's security and economic interests.

The ICJ rejected one of Kenya's key arguments, that Somalia had previously agreed to a boundary, saying there was no proof to show that from the documents Kenyan lawyers supplied to the court.

The Hague-based court also rejected Somalia's demand for compensation for Kenya's past economic activity in the area.

Somalia filed a complaint against Kenya in the International Court of Justice in 2014, saying it had exhausted all other avenues of finding a solution to the dispute.

It remains to be seen if the ruling will have a real-world impact, as Kenya boycotted the hearing Tuesday and said it would not respect the ICJ verdict.

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