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Somalia gov’t denies auctioning contested gas, oil blocks

The Somalia government has issued a statement in the wake of an escalating maritime border row with Kenya.

The statement came a day after the Somalia ambassador to Kenya Ahmed Nur was sent back to Somalia for ‘consultation’.

Kenya’s ambassador to Somalia was also recalled in what the ministry of foreign affairs now says was to allow for consultation between the two states.

After a meeting in the country’s capital of Mogadishu on Sunday, February 17 , attended by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, Somalia said Kenya’s decision to expel its ambassador without consultation was regrettable.

The statement also denied claims that Somalia had auctioned controversial oil and gas blocks which are located in a contested Maritime border in the Indian Ocean.

“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 read in part.

Somalia also explained that the supposed auction only sold data for the benefit of companies interested in the gas and oil fields once the dispute is resolved.

On Saturday, February 16, the Kenyan Government had issued a strongly worded statement in which it declared Somalia an enemy state for reportedly auctioning the oil and gas blocks falling within the Kenyan maritime territory near its border in early February.

Through the Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau, the ministry said the decision to auction the blocks was an “outrageous and a provocative act of aggression which would be met with unanimous and resounding rejection by all Kenyans and people of good will who believe in the maintenance of international law and order and peaceful and legal resolution of disputes.”

Kenya wants the dispute be resolved through negotiations after Somalia took to the ICJ following unsuccessful negotiations with Kenya.

Pending a hearing date, Kenya lost the first round of the case to Somalia in its bid to stop the matter from going to full hearing in February of 2017.


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