The decision by the International Court of Justice to postpone maritime case between Kenya and Somalia could yet again raise political temperatures in Mogadishu.
ICJ postponed the case for the second time in two months, pushing hearing dates to June 8th to 12th 2020, following an application waged by Kenya.
Kenya was seeking a 12-month delay, a request which was disallowed by the court. In a ruling last week, ICJ gave Kenya a period of eight months to reorganize her legal team.
But immediate former Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has raised questions over the decision, demanding an explanation from President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
In a tweet on Monday, Former President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, the leader of Somalia’s biggest political party Union for Peace and Development Party, suspected that Mogadishu may be plotting out of court settlement with Kenya.
“What happened to our maritime case in the ICJ? Our people have a right to know why and how the case was postponed. Or is this the beginning of the road to outside court settlement? Our government has to come forward and give proper answers to the Somali people yearning for answers,” he said in a tweet.
In 2014 while Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was the sitting President, Somali lawmakers filed a motion to parliament to dismiss him, accusing him of abuse of office, one of the authors of the motion said.
“We want to present a motion against the Somali president for betraying the nation, corruption and many other reasons,” Mohamed Abdullahi Fadhaye told Reuters, without elaborating.
Efforts by Kenya to push for an out of court settlement flopped in September, following the decision by African Union to keep off the crisis. President Uhuru Kenyatta had asked AU to prevail upon Farmajo to have the case dropped.
The latest statement from Hassan Sheikh could be political, given that he has been at loggerheads with Farmajo.
In September, he protested the decision by the government to block his predecessor Sharif Sheikh Ahmed from travelling to Kismayo.
Sheikh Ahmed, the 7th president of Somalia, was intending to attend the inauguration of controversial Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe when he was turned away at Aden Abdulle Airport.
During the recently concluded UN General Assembly in New York, African Union chairman Abdel Fattah organised an informal meeting between Uhuru and Farmajo over the dispute.
Uhuru had opted for negotiations with the war-torn country, insisting that Kenya prefers dialogue rather than hectic court process in International Court of Justice at The Hague.
“In the same spirit, my administration continues to reach out to Somalia in an effort to find an amicable and sustainable solution to the maritime boundary dispute between us,” he said.
But a defiant Farmajo told the UN General Assembly that Somalia was contented with a court settlement. He said that the Indian Ocean maritime dispute should not comprise Somalia’s relationship with Kenya.
“We are happy that the ICJ found that it has jurisdictions to hear the case and it has scheduled it for November. Somalia as a member of UN is keen to see this court settlement to its end,” Farmajo said.
The ICJ had initially set September 9th for hearing but Kenya asked for more time. The court then pushed the hearing to November 4th before last week’s postponement.
At the inauguration of Sheikh Madobe a week ago, both Shariff Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh promised a revolution in Mogadishu ahead of 2020 presidential polls.
Over the weekend, Kenya objected an application by 20 people who wants Nairobi to withdraw from ICJ case, insisting that the country is determined to have the matter settled.
Somalia first moved to The Hague-based court in 2014, accusing Kenya of encroachment in the Indian Ocean coastline. Kenya has not been keen on the court process.