Kenya and Somalia have in the past few months shown some sort of sibling rivalry that has at times bordered on the absurd. The two neighbours have been locked in a dispute over their maritime boundary, with both claiming a narrow 100,000-sq km triangle of sea that the countries believe contains significant deposits of oil and gas.
Halfhearted attempts at negotiating a truce resulted in Somalia filing a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The court case, whose spirit is evidently to seek justice, has resulted in an unfortunate series of events that threaten to muddy relations between these two countries. As neighbours joined at the hip, it was pointless to let this matter get to ICJ. After all, it is hard to imagine that these two nations, with so much to live for would find it impossible to sit by the sea and over a cup of tea reach an agreement over the contested area.
This week, Aden Duale and John Mbadi jointly tabled a motion in Parliament seeking to compel the government to “explore other lawful and constitutional mechanisms for protecting the territory of the Republic of Kenya, including deploying the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to the subject boundary to undertake the responsibility of protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic as contemplated under Article 241 (3) of the Constitution.”
This is where we need to pause and rethink our actions. Does this grand posturing by both governments add any value to the citizens of the two countries? Somalia is struggling to contain insurgents that have shown an unwanted persistence and cannot be fought alone. To rid themselves of this ill, they need all neighbours on their side.
Kenya on the other hand is looking to explore expansion opportunities. As an emerging economy, Somalia is a definite partner that Nairobi would want to keep close. The ties between these two countries have been established over time. Let the two countries remain sober in this debate, lest they beat up war drums that would eventually backfire. Soberness is a virtue we should hold in high regard.