Kenya will not cede an inch of its territory in the maritime border dispute with Somalia, even as it awaits a response from Mogadishu on its decision to auction oil and gas blocks in a contested section of the Indian Ocean.
This decision was made at a Cabinet meeting at State House in Nairobi yesterday chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta, and was later communicated by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma.
The Cabinet also discussed and agreed on a road map to resolving the dispute and measures for safeguarding Kenya’s territorial integrity, marine resources including offshore oil and gas exploration, and the respective acreage of the Indian Ocean.
Addressing the media at a city hotel after a closed-door session with members of the National Assembly’s Defence and Foreign Relations Committee yesterday afternoon over the dispute, Dr Juma said Somalia’s response did not meet Kenya’s expectations.
“We sent a protest to Somalia on February 9 when we got to learn that Somalia’s ministry of petroleum and minerals had offered the blocks for auction in London,” Dr Juma said in the company of her Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau.
“We first called Somalia’s ambassador to explain what the actions of his government were. He said he did not have the information, prompting us to send him to his country to get the information we wanted. When he came back, he said he did not have the information,” she said.
At this time, Kenya was forced to recall its ambassador in Mogadishu for consultation, even as it requested the Somalia ambassador to go back to his country to get the proper response.
“From February 9 to date is an inordinate long time to get the response we want. It is the reason we called our ambassador for more consultation in Nairobi,” the CS said.
Kenya wants Somalia to withdrawal claims over the area, cancel the auctions and recognise the colonial boundaries.
But even as the country stressed its unyielding position, the Nation learnt that the bidding process for the oil and gas blocks in the disputed waters was already underway in London, and was expected to close in September.
The winning bidder is to be announced in December in London.
According to Dr Juma, Somalia is deliberately misleading the world in its recent response, where it denied ever auctioning blocks 230, 231, 232 and 233, which Kenya had clearly marked and titled as lying within its waters.
Somalia’s response did not, however, deny the complaints raised by Kenya.
But Mogadishu asserted that it does not recognise the maritime boundary that has been in place for the past 40 years, in line with the Anglo-Italian treaty of 1964 that delineated the border.
The treaty would be followed by an agreement of the general assembly of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU), now called the Africa Union, of 1964, that preserved all colonial boundaries.