NAIROBI – Kenya could send the military to the disputed maritime border with Somalia if a motion tabled in the National Assembly is approved by members.
The motion, tabled by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and Minority boss John Mbadi, seeks to compel the government to “explore other lawful and constitutional mechanisms for protecting the territory of the Republic of Kenya, including deploying the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to the subject boundary to undertake the responsibility of protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic as contemplated under Article 241 (3) of the Constitution).
Based on the mover of the motion, it was clear on the backing it has from the Executive Authority.
“Duale is in Parliament to represent the interests of the ruling party and the government itself,” one MP told Capital FM, “so when you see him bring in a motion, just know that is a government agenda and therefore it is clear it is the president seeking Parliament’s authority to deploy the military. There is no doubt about that.”
In giving notice of the motion, Duale urged the MPs to approve it when it comes up for debate as that the KDF can perform its responsibility provided under the Constitution.
Article 241 (3) of the Constitution among other matters states that the Kenya Defence Forces is responsible for the defence and protection of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic and may be deployed to restore peace in any part of Kenya affected by unrest or instability only with the approval of the National Assembly.
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“The House resolves as a first and most preferred option, engages the Federal Government of Somalia 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),” reads the Motion in part.
The development comes after Somalia sued Kenya at the ICJ, seeking to re-draw the maritime boundary from the current eastwards flow from the land border south of Kiunga, to a diagonal flow. If the court agrees with Somalia, Kenya could lose up to 100,000km2 of sea thought to contain huge amounts of hydrocarbons.
The hearing of the maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia will start on September 9 at the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands, and there is already a petition pending at the High Court seeking to stop the government from taking part in the proceedings at ICJ.
In the Motion, Duale and Mbadi want the Government to be compelled to uphold Kenya’s territorial boundaries unless Kenyans decide otherwise through a referendum.
“This House resolves that the Government upholds and protects the boundaries of the territory of Kenya, unless the People of Kenya resolves by way of referendum, to alter the territory of Kenya as contemplated under Article 255(1)(b) of the Constitution as read together with section, 3(3) of the Treaty Making and Ratification Act, (No. 45 of 2012),” Duale stated as he gave notice of the Motion.
If the House adopts the Motion, the Government will be compelled to express to the United Nations, it’s protest against the assertion of jurisdiction by the International Court of Justice over the maritime boundary conflict between the Federal Republic of Somalia and the Republic of Kenya, noting Kenya’s express reservation to jurisdiction made in 1965 and the provisions of Kenya’s Maritime Zones Act to delimit the maritime boundary through agreement as envisaged by United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)..
Nairobi also accused Somalia of continuing to market oil stocks to investors even though the area is still contested. It accused Mogadishu of using illegal maps that encroached on the Kenyan side.
Mogadishu denies encroaching on Kenya’s territory, in what led to recall of Kenya’s envoy earlier this year. Somalia’s envoy was also sent back for consultations before they restored back to their stations even though no permanent solution had been found.