Kenya, Somalia relations strains over ocean block dispute

Somalia’s diplomatic relations with Kenya will be tested depending on the outcome of a maritime boundary case which is to be determined in June. 

As Mogadishu and Nairobi appeared to iron out relations late last year, legal experts say the case at the International Court of Justice was a sticking point and could make or break the reconciliation in 2020.

Dr Ben Sihanya, a constitutional law lecturer at the University of Nairobi, says that a political solution will be best for both countries, as a decision by the court may not accommodate necessary compromises.

Sihanya adds that the problem is compounded by the fact that certain external actors like Gulf and Western countries have taken sides in the case apparently to protect their interests.

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The case had largely been in a lull until Somalian President, Farmajo took power in 2017. Now, analysts say it could either improve or worsen bilateral ties as they both claim ownership of the area in the Indian Ocean said to be rich in gas and oil.

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