Kenya and Somalia have failed to reach an amicable solution over ownership of the 162,579 sq km triangle of disputed maritime territory in the Indian Ocean.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed mediated between Kenya and Somalia to help them sort out their differences over the sea boundary and ownership of underwater resources in the Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described the dispute as an 'independent issue' and stressed upon the significance of strengthening the economies of the three countries.
Abiy Ahmed said the maritime row should not affect the infrastructure projects in the three countries, including a security transition programme in Mogadishu.
The two countries have however resumed diplomatic ties, asking their ambassadors to continue their duties.
Kenya expelled Somalia’s ambassador last month and recalled its envoy in Mogadishu. The move was justified by what Nairobi described as “urgent consultations” following reports that Somalia was selling off oil and gas blocks in the contested area.
Kenya has been avoiding taking the dispute to the International Court of Justice, asking Somalia to resolve it bilaterally. Nairobi even filed a preliminary objection to challenge the jurisdiction of the court. The ICJ however dismissed Kenya’s petition, ordering a full court hearing.
With Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed offering his mediation, Somalian and Ethiopian leadership discussed the matter "exclusively" on Wednesday.
"As an outcome, both agreed to work towards peace & to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions," President Abiy Ahmed's office said on Twitter.
Abiy Ahmed hosted shuttle diplomacy last week and had two separate meetings with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo.
Through the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, @UKenyatta & @M_Farmaajo met this morning to discuss extensively on the source of the two countries dispute. As an outcome both agreed to work towards peace & to take measures in addressing particular issues that escalated the tensions. pic.twitter.com/vRrtjPp3zF— Office of the Prime Minister - Ethiopia (@PMEthiopia) March 6, 2019
Although Somali President Farmaajo’s office described the meeting as "fruitful," the opposition parties in Somalia criticised Ethiopia-led mediation talks on the maritime dispute.
“It is totally illogical that Somali leadership tells us that Kenya and Somalia have diplomatic rapprochement without discussing the source (maritime border) of the dispute. It is civic and constitutional right that President Farmaajo must share the real facts with his people,” Somali opposition Party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur tweeted.
Waa xadgudub lagula kacayo caqliga shacabka Soomaaliyeed in ay Villa Somalia tiraahdo Kenya iyo Soomaaliya way heshiiyee iyaga oo aan soo hadal qaadin xuduntii khilaafka dhalisay. Waajib Dastuuri iyo mid Wadani ah weeye in Madaxweyne Farmaajo uu shacabkiisa runta la wadaago pic.twitter.com/RrJ9J93PKH— Abdirahman Abdishakur (@AAbdishakur) March 6, 2019
Despite strained diplomatic ties, Kenya hosts the largest population of Somali refugees and has troops serving in the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is helping the government led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo battle the Al Qaeda-linked armed group, Al Shabab.