FOCUS ON AFRICA

Kenya withdraws from ICJ case over Somalia sea border at last minute

Kenya will not take part in Monday’s hearings over its maritime border dispute with Somalia at the International Court of Justice, government sources have told the BBC.

Kenya accuses the ICJ of bias in the case, which concerns a 62,000 sq miles (160,000 sq km) triangle in the Indian Ocean.

The area is thought to be rich in oil and gas.

The dispute is at the heart of a diplomatic row between the neighbours.

Kenya had asked for the case to be delayed while it briefed a new legal team, and also cited the coronavirus pandemic, but the ICJ ruled the case should be heard virtually on Monday.

Kenya also objects to the presence on the ICJ panel of a Somali judge, saying he should recuse himself.

Somalia brought the case in 2014, saying the maritime frontier should follow on in the same direction as the land border, while Kenya argues that it has always been taken in a horizontal line from the point where the two countries meet at the coast.

Kenya’s legal team is understood to want to brief the ICJ for 30 minutes on Monday before the hearing officially starts.

Somalia also accuses Kenya of interfering in its internal affairs by backing the administration of the Jubbaland region against the federal government.

However, the two countries are allies against the al-Shabab Islamist group, which controls many rural parts of Somalia and has staged numerous deadly attacks in Kenya.

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