The Lower House of Somalia parliament on Monday approved controversial petroleum law despite ongoing row over maritime border with Kenya.
In February, the two countries locked horns over control of large oil deposits along the Indian Ocean, with claims that Somalia had auctioned the oil fields in the disputed region.
Voice of America Journalist Harun Maruf, who also authored Inside Al-Shabaab book, on Monday said the law had been approved by parliament, a move which will allow the Horn of Africa Nation to contract exploration companies on oil mining.
“Lower House of Parliament approves Petrolium law despite opposition from regional leaders. MPs voted by show of hand, 150 MPs voted in favour 4 rejected. The Petrolium law is revised version of the 2008 law. Somalia plans to give oil exploration contracts in Dec 2019,” he wrote.
When the matter rocked Nairobi and Mogadishu early this year, Somalia denied auctioning the oil fields. However, it maintained that the maritime boundary remains as described by documents submitted to International Court of Justice.
“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.
“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.”
So bitter was the row that Kenya recalled her Ambassador to Somalia. President Mohammed Farmajo visited in March and held a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. While he gave a press statement over the meeting, State House in Nairobi remained tight lipped.
“The agenda of the talks included a diplomatic solution and the president has agreed to restore and strengthen ties and co-operation between the two countries based on mutual respect and co-operation in the areas of security, economy, human trafficking and trade,” said Mr Farmaajo.