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Kenya withdraws from ICJ case with Somalia

Kenya has pulled out of the maritime with Somalia just three days before the oral proceedings resume citing the COVID-19 pandemic and continued participation of Somali judge Abdulqawi Yusuf in the case.

Attorney General Kihara Kariuki told the International Court of Justice in a letter dated March 11 that Kenya was withdrawing from the case after its pleas were rejected.

“Kenya wishes to inform the court, through the Registrar, that it shall not be participating in the hearings in the case herein, should the same proceed from March 15, 2021, as presently scheduled,” the letter read in part.

In its argument, Kenya reiterates its lack of adequate preparations as a result of COVID-19 pandemic since it recruited a new legal team at the same time the pandemic struck. It also notes that the pandemic had stripped it of financial resources to fund the case.

Attempts to convince the court in February to further delay the case flopped after the global court ruled that the case will proceed. Kenya had successfully convinced the court three times to delay the case.

In building its case for withdrawal, Kenya is also citing bias over the participation of Judge Yusuf, a Somali national who until February this year was President of the Court.

“Kenya’s concerns and perception of unfairness and injustice in this matter are exacerbated by the inexplicable rejection of Kenya’s preliminary objections to this court’s jurisdiction and the dismissal of request for the recusal of judge Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf given his past exposure on behalf of Somalia, to the issues in this case,” AG Kariuki noted.

Somalia dispatched its team led by Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Guled last week. Guled expressed confidence that his country was winning the case.

In the absence of Kenya, the Court is at liberty to proceed with the case and issue its verdict since Kenya had already presented written submissions to the court.

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