UN court to hear Somalia-Kenya border row

The Hague: The UN’s highest court Thursday agreed to hear a case by Somalia against neighbouring Kenya in a bitter maritime border spat which may determine the fate of potentially lucrative Indian Ocean oil and gas reserves.

Nairobi has argued that the International Court of Justice, which rules in disputes between countries, does not have jurisdiction over the case, brought by Somalia in 2014.

“The court finds that Kenya’s preliminary objection to the jurisdiction of the case must be rejected,” ICJ president Ronny Abraham said.

admissibility of Somalia’s application must therefore be rejected,” Abraham told a hearing at the ICJ’s headquarters at the scenic Peace Palace in The Hague.

Mogadishu’s case against Nairobi focuses on an attempt to redraw the sea border which would affect at least three of Kenya’s 20 offshore oil blocks.

Somalia says bilateral talks have failed to resolve the spat. A final outcome will significantly impact a new source of revenue for either of the east African neighbours.

Somalia, which lies north of Kenya, wants to continue the frontier along the line of the land border, in a southeast direction. But Kenya wants the border to head out to sea in a straight line east, along the parallel of latitude, giving it more sea territory.

The disputed triangle of water, which stretches over an area of more than 100,000 square kilometres (40,000 square miles), is believed to hold valuable deposits of oil and gas in a part of Africa only recently found to be sitting on significant reserves.

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