The International Court of Justice has approved a request by Kenya to delay the public hearing of its maritime boundary case with Somalia.
In September, Kenya had asked for a delay by up to a year, saying it needed time to reconstitute a legal team.
The court initially set September 9-13 date but pushed the public hearings to November 4-8 of this year.
Kenya’s Attorney General, however, appealed the decision arguing the period granted was insufficient. He asked for a year, saying September 2020 was ideal.
ICJ, after hearing objections from Somalia, pushed the case to June 8, 2020, and warned both countries that there will be no further delays.
The decision could at least lower the tempo of tensions between the two countries which had recently reached near diplomatic cut-off as the hearing date nears.
Kenya has argued the case shouldn’t be heard at the ICJ saying the court is rigid and may not resolve political issues attached to the case.
It has instead approached the African Union, seeking out of court negotiations.
Last month, Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo rejected the offer saying the AU has no capacity. He said the Court should be final arbiter.
Somalia sued Kenya at the ICJ in 2014, seeking to redraw the sea boundary between the two countries from the current straight line to a diagonal flow. The disputed area is about 100, 000 km and is said to contain hydrocarbons.