Ethiopia seeks to mediate Somalia-Kenya over oil blocks row

Somali President Mohamed and Ethiopia's PM Abiy Ahmed met in Addis Ababa capital on Tuesday

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has offered mediation between Somalia and Kenya, after Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was invited to Addis Ababa capital on Tuesday.

PM Abiy Ahmed has held talks with President Mohamed, discussing on ways to strengthen regional peace per the agreements signed previously.

He underlined the importance of having better collaboration between Somalia and Kenya, amid strained relations.

The tension escalated last month after Kenya recalled the ambassador to Somalia Lt. General (Rtd) Lucas Tumbo to Nairobi over unilaterally auctioned off oil and gas blocks in a contested maritime area.

Nairobi has also at the same time ordered Somali ambassador Mohamed Ahmed Nour to return back to Mogadishu.

Kenya claimed the oil and gas auction took place in London, United Kingdom, on 7th February, 2019.

But, Somalia denies to have auctioned any oil blocks in a disputed section of the Indian Ocean, contrary to claims by Kenya.

In a statement, Somalia’s Foreign Minister Ahmad Isse Awad says it has not offered, nor does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until International Court of Justice rendered it.

Meanwhile, Somali MP Abdirisak Mohamed says no regional pressure would change Somalia’s position with respect to its maritime dispute with Kenya.

Hon. Mohamed says Somalia would abide by the decision of the ICJ.

“Kenya has nothing to do with Somali bid rounds conference in London. It is rather a preemptive strategy to force Somalia to open negotiations on the maritime dispute with Kenya”, he said.

Mogadishu was referring to a case in which it sued Kenya at the international court, where Kenya is seeking to have the maritime border between the two to run parallel to the latitude eastward south of Kyunga.

Somalia wants it to run diagonally, as an extension of the land border.