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ICJ hears maritime case despite Kenya boycott
Africa

ICJ hears maritime case despite Kenya boycott

The International Court of Justice began oral hearings in the maritime dispute between Somalia and Kenya, despite the latter refusing to participate in the legal proceedings brought against it. The presiding judge in the case, Joan Donoghue, confirmed that Kenya has pulled out. Kenya was not present in court or via video link. "Kenya informed the court by letter, dated March 11 received March 12, that they would not participate," presiding Judge Joan Donoghue said. She added that "the court regrets the decision of Kenya not to participate in the oral proceedings." Despite Kenya's boycott, the ICJ will still proceed with the hearing. Donoghue said that the court would rely on Kenya's written submissions. The court refused Kenya's request to address the court for 30-minutes at the start of the hearings. This border dispute regularly poisons the already tumultuous relations between the two countries. In December, Somalia announced that it was breaking off diplomatic relations with Kenya. In February, Kenya recalled its ambassador to Mogadishu, accusing Somalia of auctioning off oil and gas fields in the disputed area - a charge it denies. In 2009, the two countries agreed to settle their dispute through bilateral negotiations. But these were not successful. As a result, Somalia referred the matter to the ICJ in 2014. Despite Kenya's challenges, the ICJ declared itself competent in February 2017. Somalia has not yet reacted to the Kenyan decision.