Parliament: MPs want KDF to man disputed maritime border

Thursday, August 8th, 2019 00:00 | By
Garisa Town MP Aden Duale.PHOTO/COURTESY.

Parliament now wants the government to deploy the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to man the disputed maritime border triangle being contested by Kenya and Somalia.

Members of the National Assembly have proposed a bill that seeks to  protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country by ensuring that the border is not taken over by Somalia.

The bill by Majority Leader Aden Duale and Minority Leader John Mbadi proposes that the law upholds and protects the boundaries of the territory of Kenya, unless Kenyans resolves by a way of referendum to alter the same.

“The country should explore other lawful and constitutional mechanisms for protecting the territory of the Republic, including deploying the Kenya Defence Forces to the subject boundary to undertake the responsibility of protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity,” reads the bill. 

Martime zones Act

 According to the bill, Kenya should take urgent steps to implement, in full, the provisions of the Maritime Zones Act, Cap 371 with regard to delimitation of the Northern Boundary of the Exclusive Economic Zone with Federal Republic of Somalia through agreement as envisaged by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

They also want as a first and most preferred option, Kenya to engage the Somalia government to resolve the boundary dispute for the benefit of both countries and the region, through diplomacy and dispute resolution mechanisms available under African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority for Development (Igad) and East African Community (EAC). 

The Kenyan government should also express to the United Nations its protest against the assertion of jurisdiction by the International Court of Justice over the border.

The MPs  state in the bill that the determination of the case before the ICJ which will be made in next month, could  expose Kenyan and make it  irregularly losing upto 26 per cent of its Exclusive Economic Zone and 85 per cent of the Continental Shelf and access to international waters.

ICJ is set to convene on September 9 to listen to oral submissions by parties in the maritime delimitation dispute between Kenya and Somalia.

“Further considering that the possible delimitation of the maritime boundary on the basis of the equidistant principle sought by Somalia will have the effect of extending its territory by up to 50 miles from Kenya’s tourism resorts in Lamu and adjacent islands including the strategic Lamu Port, therefore threatening to expose Kenya to further terrorist attacks and long term insecurity,” it states.

UN intervention

The legislators caution that the border dispute between the two countries may hamper current efforts in the continuing construction of a border wall between Kenya and Somalia, and the fight against piracy in Kenya’s waters and fight against al Shabaab in the region.

Kenya has since sought the intervention of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on the maritime border dispute.

UN Secretary General António Guterres is said to have informally mentioned the raging dispute to the 15-member UNSC as a possible threat to peace and stability in the region.

Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma recently confirmed the dispute, was already before the UN Secretary General to the Security Council desk. “The UN sees the dispute as a potential threat to peace and regional security,” Juma said. Kenya contends that should Somalia case before the courts succeeds, the issue will have consequences across the continent, as this will prompt countries to the south also negotiate their own borders.

This, the government argues, will affect Kenya against Tanzania, Tanzania against Mozambique and Mozambique against South Africa if the horizontal rule were to apply. 

Kenya fears should it cede ground or lose the case, it will lose 26 per cent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which is about 51,105 square kilometres and also 85 per cent or 95,320 square kilometres of the continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical miles EEZ and also access to international waters.

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