Kenya Vows to defend its illegal Territory in Oil Dispute with Somalia

Kenya vowed to “never cede an inch” of its territory in a border dispute with Somalia that has soured diplomatic relations.

Kenya recalled its ambassador last week after accusing Somalia of auctioning four oil blocks in an area off their coastlines claimed by both nations. It demanded Somalia withdraw what it called “illegal maps” presented to prospective investors at a conference in London earlier this month. Somalia denied the allegations.

“Kenya understands our historical boundaries and we believe that Somalia too understands the same,” Foreign Minister Monica Juma said Thursday in a statement handed to reporters in the capital, Nairobi. “Kenya will never cede an inch of her territory.”

The dispute is threatening to undermine relations between the two East African nations that have forged an alliance in recent years to fight al-Qaeda-linked militants who’ve waged an insurgency in Somalia since 2006. The Islamist group, known as al-Shabaab, has carried out a series of attacks in East Africa, including one last month in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, in which 21 people died. “

“If this case drags on for long, it disrupts the security co-operation,” said Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa Project Director at Brussels-based International Crisis Group. The disputed area contains oil and gas deposits beneath waters rich in tuna and other fish, all of which have the potential to generate funds Somalia needs to rebuild its economy after decades of civil war.

The bilateral relation between these two nations is worsening while they are loggerheads over maritime border dispute though Somalia said it would not undertake any other unilateral action in the disputed territory until the case is decided by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

Kenya is seeking new revenue streams to help achieve President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambitious plan to develop transport linkages and reduce a housing deficit in East Africa’s largest economy.

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