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Kenya likely to compensate Somalia over oil exploration on disputed sea area

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Kenya could be forced to compensate Somalia over oil exploration on a disputed sea area if the neighbouring country wins a case being adjudicated at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The case lodged by Somalia on August 28, 2014 is set to gain full steam after Kenya lost preliminary objections last year. The government was then required to file a substantive response to the main case in December last year.

And although Kenya, through the Office of the Attorney General Githu Muigai, complied with the orders by December 22nd, officials have remained tight-lipped on the content and nature of the defence they gave.

“Unfortunately, it is neither procedural nor possible to release documents in custody of the ICJ. These are confidential documents. It is only the ICJ that can give these documents and this would only be with the concurrence of the other party (Somalia),” an official at the AG office wrote to the Sunday Standard.

The Attorney General who put up a spirited fight inside the ICJ courtroom last year but lost, did not respond to our inquiries. His fate in the wake of Friday’s Cabinet purge remains unknown.

In the secretive defense known in court parlance as a “memorial,” Kenya is understood, to have insisted on its boundary with Somalia being along a parallel of latitude as was decreed in the presidential proclamation of 1979.

It is also rooting on a second Presidential Proclamation in 2005 as well as its submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in 2009.

“Kenya asserts that all her activities including naval patrols, fishery activities, marine and scientific research as well as oil and gas exploration are within the maritime boundary established by Kenya and recognised and respected by both parties since 1979,” a statement from AG’s office said.

In the memorial, Kenya is also insisting on a negotiated solution.At stake in the case are seven oil blocks awarded to foreign companies on concession basis. Kenya has since claimed exploratory activities in the area have been suspended as a sign of good faith but Somali insists this is not enough:

“Adjudge and declare that Kenya, by its conduct in the disputed area, has violated its international obligations to respect the sovereignty, and sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Somalia, and is responsible under international law to make full reparation to Somalia,” Somalia says in its claims.

In the past, maritime experts have warned that Kenya could lose the main case if past rulings of the court were anything to go by. Their arguments are based on the fact that the method adopted by Kenya to claim the maritime border — parallel of latitude — is seldom relied on by the court as compared to Somalia’s equidistant line approach.

Last year, Prof Musili Wambua, a maritime law expert said the only way Kenya can avoid losing is by demonstrating existence of “very strong circumstances which warrant a departure from the equidistant line advocated by Somalia.”

“It is only in Nicaragua v Honduras that the ICJ departed from the principle of equidistant special circumstances principle/rule and applied bisector method because equidistant could not produce equitable outcome,” Wambua said.

In its preliminary objections, Kenya had argued that a 2009 Memorandum of Understanding with Somalia acknowledging a dispute and vowing not to challenge each other’s claims pending process of registering borders removed the matter from ICJ scope.

On top of the reparations, Somalia also wants Kenya to hand it over all seismic data acquired in areas that are disputed “and to repair in full all damage that has been suffered by Somalia.

KENYA

Miraa exporters to Mogadishu boycott trade over high prices

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Miraa exporters serving the Mogadishu market have started a boycott on the trade citing high farm gate prices.

Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) Chairman Kimathi Munjuri said the traders resolved to boycott buying the twigs to force farmers to lower the prices.

According to Mr Munjuri, a 100kg sack of miraa is now selling at Sh160,000, up from at least Sh20,000 during the rainy season.

This means a 1kg bundle (bunda) of the medium quality miraa is selling at Sh1,600.

The high prices are due to low supply caused by the dry spell that started early December.

“Only traders serving other parts of Somalia shipped their commodity on Monday night.

Traders who export to Mogadishu feel that it is not sustainable to buy 100kgs at Sh160,000 because buyers cannot afford it.

TRADERS MEET

He said the traders met in Eastleigh on Sunday and resolved that they would not buy miraa from farmers.

“This means about 30 tonnes of miraa has not been delivered to Mogadishu,” Mr Munjuri said.

Mr Joseph Muturia, a member of the Miraa report implementation committee, said the premium quality miraa known as ‘Mbaine’ is selling at Sh6,000 a kilo while ‘kisa’ is retailing at Sh4,000.

“I currently sell miraa locally because residents understand the quality of this type of miraa,” Mr Muturia said.

Mr Josiah Mugo, a miraa consumer, said he could no longer afford to chew daily after prices spiked from mid-December.

“A small bundle (surba) of the best quality khat is now retailing at more than Sh400 from Sh150 last month. I am considering shifting to muguka but its quality is not good. I am now chewing occasionally so as not to stretch my budget,” Mr Mugo said.

BOYCOTT FUTILE

However, Nyamita termed the move by the traders as futile saying the miraa prices are determined by market forces.

“Miraa trading is highly dependent on supply and demand. At no time do farmers or suppliers meet to fix the price. The exporters have tried this before in vain. Let those who have a market for miraa, at its prevailing prices, buy and sell without undue subjection to mob attempts to fix prices,” Mr Munjuri said.

He noted that farmers are also subjected to poor prices when there is a miraa glut during the rains.

“During the rains, miraa is in plenty and traders pick it for a dime. An attempt by farmers to boycott selling at poor prices have also failed,” the Nyamita chairman said.

ADDRESS CHALLENGES

Nyamita now wants the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) to move in and address challenges facing the sector so as to stabilise prices.

Earlier, the lobby had faulted AFA for not operationalising an office in Maua, Meru County that was opened in November 2017.

“The fluctuations in supply [is one] of the urgent and critical issues we have been hoping the national government would address. Unfortunately AFA is yet to start operations despite opening their office in Maua,” he added.

Farmers have called on the county and national governments to allocate more funds towards irrigation projects to ensure consistent production of miraa.

In April 2017, traders boycotted selling miraa in Somalia for four days over a tax dispute with Mogadishu authorities.

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Time ripe for Kenyan business people to venture into Somalia

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As the economy recovers, it will be wise for Kenyans companies to set eyes on Somalia.

DAILY NATION — Though associated with insecurity for years, recent developments there are making it an attractive investment option.

In fact, in the past year, Somalia was the only neighbouring trade partner that registered strong growth in export volumes with Kenya.

With exports worth over Sh10 billion, it is the third-largest destination for Kenyan goods.

GENDER

Among factors that make business sense to set up shop in Somalia is strong political leadership, headed by Federal President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed, who came into office in a peaceful transfer of power.

It’s also noteworthy that almost a quarter of the elected Members of Parliament are women — proof of gender parity, hence fairness.

The Mogadishu government is making strides towards sustainable stability. Besides joining anti-piracy efforts and holding security conferences, it now controls its airspace, which was under the United Nations since 1992.

The African Union is preparing to leave the country — a testament of an improved security situation.

There is not much competition in Somalia, more so due to decades of violence, and businesses would get much more returns there compared to other, more mature markets.

CARGO PLANES

There are business distribution lines throughout the country established via the miraa trade. Cargo planes ply the Kenya-Somalia route daily, so logistics should not be an issue.

Again, Kenyan traders enjoy goodwill as our country has hosted Somali refugees for more than two decades.

Since Kenya has a well-developed Islamic financial system, that would serve anyone wanting to do business in Somalia very well.

The communities along the common border have traded for centuries. Indeed, livestock trade has thrived for ages there.

A business can also set base in Garissa and other border counties and use that as a launching pad to Somalia. The presence of airports, government investments such as roads and the counties’ efforts to promote businesses in their localities would be a boon for businesses eyeing Somalia.

Further, the border posts, such as Liboi, ensure safe and efficient travel in and out of Somalia.

MOGADISHU

Though scarred by war, Somalia has many universities, whose graduates, together with Somalis returning from the diaspora, would provide skilled labour.

Public services are devolved and one doesn’t need to go to Mogadishu for every business need.

The UN and other international organisations and multinationals have been in Somali for a long time and a business would not be venturing into Somalia in isolation.

Rather, it would have abundance of knowledge and information to tap into. Besides, one can partner with locals in joint ventures.

As war ends ands and normalcy returns in Somalia, our youth can invest or seek jobs in Somalia.

That would also boost the fight against terror, both there and in Kenya.
Kariuki Gathuitu, Nairobi.

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Somali militants “lecture” frightened Kenyan villagers before escaping

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LAMU, Kenya, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) — About 100 Somali Al-Shabaab militants on Sunday stormed a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region where they “lectured” frightened villagers.

The militants flushed out Ishakani villagers from their houses and preached to them radical teachings at the border village between Kenya and Somalia.

According to witnesses living in Ishakani, the militants joined other Muslim faithful for prayers in the mosque in which they lectured them before escaping into Somalia.

Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo confirmed the incident on Sunday evening, saying that they got information and sent officers to pursue the militants.
Kitiyo confirmed that a group of between 60 to 100 suspected Al-Shabaab militants invaded Ishakani village on Sunday.

“However, within 30 minutes, we had already sent out a special team of KDF (Kenya Defence Forces) to pursue the terrorists. Our officers are pursuing the criminals who suspected that our security team must be following them,” Kitiyo said.

The government official reiterated that the national government is aware of the militants’ threats and are working towards weeding out the Al-Shabaab group from Boni forest which he said continues to be their base of operations.

He further said that KDF from the local camp together with the special squad are hunting down the militants in Boni forest.

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