Kenya Somalia Dispute: Ethiopia Prime Minister Initiates Peace Talks Between Neighboring Countries

The ongoing Kenya Somalia dispute is showing no signs of stopping down. The spat between the two neighboring African countries began over their maritime boundary, with both claiming a narrow 100,000-sq km triangle of sea shelf thought to contain significant deposits of oil and gas.

Ever since the maritime dispute began, Kenya has maintained that it would prefer to resolve the boundary issue out of court. Somalia, on the other hand, filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2014, which is still to be adjudicated.

Notably, last month, Kenya summoned its ambassador to Somalia after the latter allegedly auctioned off oil, gas and mineral blocks falling within the disputed territory. Although Somalia has denied offering to sell four offshore oil blocks in the disputed area, the Kenyan government protested the auction and termed the action as an unparalleled affront and vowed that the illegal activity will not go unanswered.

In a bid to settle the Kenya Somalia dispute and restore diplomatic relations between the two countries, Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed accompanied his Somalian counterpart Mohamed Farmaajo to Nairobi to meet President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya on Tuesday. Abiy and Farmaajo left for Nairobi after holding bilateral talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

“During the peace talks in Kenya, the leaders will discuss on how to peacefully resolve their differences before it turns into a major regional problem,” said Nigusu Tillahun, Press Secretary of the Prime Minister Office, said.

The office of the Ethiopian prime minister confirmed that mediation efforts were designed to ease tensions that have been building. It is expected that the leaders will reach an agreement. Notably, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy also met with Somaliland President in Addis Ababa a few weeks ago, with intent to bring lasting peace in the region by bringing everybody aboard.

Meanwhile, Somalia’s presidency tweeted that Farmaajo’s main objective to visit Kenya is to restore and strengthen diplomatic relations with its neighbor.

It remains to be seen if the Ethiopian prime minister’s efforts will take shape as expected and bring an end to the Kenya Somalia dispute.