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Norway has waded into Kenya-Somalia’s simmering marine dispute and Kenya is not happy

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  • The Norwegian government has been dragged into the two countries maritime row that now threatens to strain the relationship between the two neighbouring countries.
  • Norwegian oil firm DNO has been contracted by Somalia to search for oil in the disputed area.
  • Kenya is also wary of a recent meeting between Tanzania President John Magufuli and Mr Farmajo.

Kenya’s Somalia simmering marine dispute has gotten bigger and the risk for full diplomatic breakdown has significantly grown as well.

The Norwegian government has been dragged into the two countries maritime row that now threatens to strain the relationship between the two neighbouring countries.

Kenya is unhappy with the involvement of a Norwegian firm in ‘redrawing’ of its map. Norwegian oil firm DNO has been contracted by Somalia to search for oil in the disputed area.


Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta and his Somali counterpart Mohammed Farmajo

Reliable media reports indicate that Kenya has since written a protest letter to the Norwegian government for allowing its firm to be used in the demarcation.

“The government is furious that Norway that is supposed to work for peace in Somalia is involved in the demarcation,” an official who requested anonymity said.

Senior government officials who spoke to the Sunday Nation, a local news publication are said to be blaming Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed alias Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire popularly known as Hassan Khayre, for working with some Western governments and multinational corporations to escalate the dispute.

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Somali’s Prime Minister Hassan Khayre with President Farmaajo. (Garowe Online)

President Farmaajo holds both the Somali and American citizenship while Hassan Khayre, a former oil executive is a dual citizen of Somalia and Norway.

Prior to his appointment in 2017 as Prime Minister, Mr. Khayre previously served as the director of Soma Oil and Gas, a private oil company formed in 2013 to explore natural resources in Somalia.

Soma Oil and Gas was the first international company to sign an oil contract with the Somali government, an issue that led to investigations by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.


Billionaire Michael Howard. (Newsweek)

Also read: Kenya now moves to ban unaccompanied luggage from Somalia days after blocking Somali MPs from setting foot to Kenya

Other than Mr Khayre, the other key persons in the company are billionaire Michael Howard, a member of Britain’s House of Lords where he is referred to as Baron Howard of Lympne, and Russian billionaire Alexander Djaparidze, the CEO and largest shareholder of Eurasia Drilling Company.

Kenya is also wary of a recent meeting between Tanzania President John Magufuli and Mr Farmajo with regional observers pointing fingers at its neighbours Tanzania, Ethiopia and Eritrea as the dispute escalates.

Due to the nature of the conflict, other key players in the dispute include Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates,” says Dr Hassan Khannenje, the Director HORN International Institute for Strategic Studies.


Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma

The tussle began in August 2014 when Somalia sued Kenya at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, for unlawful operations in her maritime territory measuring 100,000 square kilometres.

“Whereas Kenya filed a response of one volume, Somalia filed 10 volumes of documents with each at least 250 pages. Other than that, Somalia appears to be receiving considerable help in terms of financial assistance and legal advice from Western corporations and foreign masters,” Prof Peter Kagwanja, an expert on security, governance and strategic issues and the head of the Africa Policy Institute, said.


Info-graphic: A maritime border conflcit between Kenya and Somalia. (DW)

The ‘foreign firms interest’ hasn’t escaped the attention of UN Monitoring Group and in its latest annual report to the Security Council’s sanctions committee on Somalia and Eritrea, Norwegian oil firm DNO and Canadian-listed Africa Oil Corp AOI. V are cited as some of the companies whose activities in Somalia could spark a conflict.

Somalia wants the ICJ to define the boundary as laid down by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international sea laws while Kenya wants the boundary to remain in accordance to the maritime boundary that former President Daniel Moi pronounced and declared in 1979.