By Mohamed Sheikh Nor
(Bloomberg) Somalia, which has mainland Africa’s longest coastline, plans to pursue its case in a maritime dispute with Kenya at the International Court of Justice next week, Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Maareeye said.
The Horn of African nation is trying to capitalize on its natural resources as it seeks to rebuild an economy decimated by almost 25 years of clan warfare and an Islamist militant insurgency. The government’s plan to develop the fishing industry and explore the oil and gas potential off the country’s more than 3,000-kilometer (1,864-mile) shoreline has been held back by a dispute with Kenya over the maritime boundary separating the neighboring countries.
“The issue of the Kenyan government violations against our territorial waters has continued for a long time, so it’s the right time to end its fake claim in court,” Maareeye told reporters on Wednesday in the capital, Mogadishu. Out-of-court negotiations have failed to come up with a solution, he said. A group of international lawyers representing the Somali government will present a 150-page court filing at the ICJ on July 13, which Kenya will later respond to, said Maareeye.
Kenya contributes troops to an African Union force in Somalia trying to stop the militant group al-Shabaab from imposing Shariah, or Islamic law. While lawlessness in Somalia had allowed piracy to flourish off the country’s Indian Ocean coast, anti-piracy patrols have improved security and reduced the number of attacks on ships in recent years.
Somalia initially started proceedings at the ICJ, which is the United Nations’ top judicial body, in August.
Kenya’s Energy Ministry in 2013 said it proposed the boundary run in a straight line, similar to the one established in the south with Tanzania, where rich offshore natural-gas deposits have been discovered.
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