Kenya has withdrawn from the international maritime border dispute with Somalia in protest, citing bias and unwillingness by the court to delay proceedings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya in a letter to the International Court of Justice withdrew from the hearing which was scheduled for tomorrow, March 15, 2021.

This comes at a time when Kenya and Somalia are in the middle of a diplomatic crisis, where the former is accusing the latter of mingling in her internal affairs.

File image of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. |Photo| Courtesy|

The move strains further the relationship between Nairobi and Mogadishu with questions being raised at to whether the proceeding would go on with Somalia participating alone.

Somalia in 2014 filed a case at the ICJ claiming ownership of territorial waters which have for long been part of Kenya. 

This evidenced the approach taken by President Mohamed Farmaajo's government towards President Uhuru Kenyatta's government.

"Kenya wishes to inform the court through the registrar that it shall not be participating in the hearing of the case herein, should the same proceed from March 15, 2021 as presently scheduled," the letter by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki read in part.

Kenya argued that the move by the court to proceed with oral hearing of the case as scheduled was biased, stating that it had denied their team of new lawyers time to familirise themselves with the case.

The communication argued that the lawyers were unable to fully familirise with the case as the country was grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The consequence of this is that Kenya and its legal team had been deprived the of the opportunity of having necessary preparatory and engagement meetings," the letter reads.

Kenya fired its initial lawyers in 2019 and hired a new team in December the same year.

The new team is led by American Professor Sean D Murphy and former judge of International Tribunal or the Law of the Sea Tullio Tevres.

Other members include Professors; Phoebe Okawa-the only Kenyan on the team, Makane Mbengue, Laurence Boisson De Chazournes, Christian Tams an Eran Sthoeger.

File image of the International Court of Justice in Hague, Netherlands. |Photo| Courtesy|