By Samuel Ouma
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday 15 began the hearing on the border dispute between Kenya and her neighboring Somalia despite the former’s protest.
Through its legal team, Somalia’s government presented its oral arguments before the judges even as Kenya opted not to take part in the hearings citing “perceived bias.”
In a letter sent to the court last week Thursday, Kenya stated why she decided to boycott the hearing process.
First, she complained of inadequate preparations blaming the Covid-19 pandemic, which hindered its lawyers from holding meetings to deliberate on the matter.
Kenya also protested at the court’s decision to allow some hearings to be held virtually noting that would not give her the right opportunity to defend herself.
The presence of a Somali judge in the ICJ panel also did not go well with Kenya as they demanded he recuses himself.
The country further asked the court to allow its representatives to address the court orally for 30 minutes, a request that was dismissed by
However, Kenya said he is willing to forward its position to the court in writing.
Reacting to Kenya’s absence, the Hague-based court said it would continue to hear Somalia’s case and then use Kenya’s written evidence.
On the other hand, Somalia took a swipe at Kenya for boycotting the hearing saying the decision shows “inconsistent with its obligations and… rule of law”.
The disputed area is about 100,000 square kilometers and is rich in fish, oil, and gas.
While Somalia wants the maritime to follow the same direction as the land border, Kenya says it should be a horizontal line from where the two countries meet at the coast.
The case was taken to ICJ in 2014 by Somalia, and since then, the two nations have endured a strained relationship.