Somalia denies auctioning oil and gas blocs in disputed maritime areas

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, February 8 2017. Reuters/Feisal Omar
Somalia has denied allegations of auctioning off neighboring Kenya’s oil and gas blocks amidst a simmering diplomatic tiff between the two countries.
The denial comes barely a day after Kenya summoned its ambassador to Somalia while expelling the Somalia envoy.
In a statement issued on Sunday following a meeting chaired by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, Somalia regretted that Kenya expelled the ambassador without consulting it.
Somalia’s response was to Kenya’s communication on February 8 on maritime zones presented at the Somalia Oil and Gas Conference on February 7 in London.
The horn of Africa nation on Sunday denied that the maps were illegal.
“The maps in question depict Somalia’s claimed maritime zones and are entirely consistent with Somalia’s long-standing position, including its claim in the maritime delimitation case with Kenya, currently before the International Court of Justice,” reads a statement from Somalia’s Foreign Affairs ministry.
The ministry noted that its position reflected its duty to protect its “sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity”.
Regarding allegations that its auctioned oil and gas blocks in Kenya’s maritime territorial area that borders it, the Somalia ministry said it was not doing so and that it did not have any such plans.
“Somalia is not now offering, not does it have any plans to offer, any blocks in the disputed maritime area until the parties’ boundary is decided by the ICJ,” the statement said.
Somalia promised Kenya that it will not engage in any activities in the areas under dispute until the ICJ delivers its judgment.
And even when it does, the ministry said, “Somalia will fully respect the decision and comply”.
Regarding the two countries’ people, Somalia noted that they are “indissolubly interconnected” and that they share strong cultural and historial ties, ties which it said it did not want broken.
Somalia, troubled by instability and the activities by terror group Al-Shabaab, said it will continue to cooperate with its neighbours in addressing their problems and those the region is facing.

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