NAIROBI [SMN] – President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday sent a veiled but firm warning that Kenya would not cede an inch of its territory to anyone and for any reason.
In what appeared to be a terse warning to neighbouring Somalia, which was this month awarded by a top UN court a section of a maritime triangle claimed by Kenya, President Kenyatta said his administration would protect the country’s territorial integrity.
“On many occasions, we have experienced territorial aggressions to the sanctity of our borders. Some have been driven from within and others from without. But the message of our founding fathers to these aggressors was simple: ‘Not an inch less, not an inch more.’ And this is the message that must reverberate across the collective quarters that are bent on annexing any part of the territory known as the Republic of Kenya,” the President declared.
In a speech where security and territorial integrity seemed to take precedence over other national matters, the President said Kenya has over the past eight years bolstered its security and even superseded the United Nations-recommended police-to-citizen ratio.
Speaking at Wang’uru Stadium in Kirinyaga County during Mashujaa Day celebrations, President Kenyatta said his government was duty-bound to hand over to the next generation the country as it was handed over to him and would not cede an inch of its territory.
“The resolve of our founding fathers rings as true today, as it did then. And we as Kenyans say this because we are a nation content with our country’s bounty and also content with the splendor within our borders,” Mr Kenyatta added.
This comes barely a month after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered a judgment that decreed that the Kenya-Somalia maritime border be redrawn in favour of Somalia.
Kenya had insisted in court papers that its maritime border with Somalia runs in a line due east from the point where the two countries meet in the Indian Ocean.
Somalia, however, countered that the sea frontier should follow the direction of its land boundary.
The case over the area measuring 150,000 square kilometers was filed at the UN top court in 2014 by then Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Muhamud and touched on an area teeming with fish, natural gas, and petroleum, which global conglomerates and powers have reportedly been mouthwatering about.
Somalia President Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmaajo) welcomed the ICJ verdict and called on Kenya to honour the verdict of the ICJ, which was in essence a call to Kenya to cede part of its territory.
Kenya had, however, withdrawn from the ICJ proceedings long before the ruling, insisting that the court was not impartial as one of the judges, Justice Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf from Somalia, had in the past expressed partisan sentiments that indicated he was biased on a matter in which he was expected to adjudicate.
Justice Yusuf has served in the ICJ since 2009 and was president of the UN court from 2018 and 2021.
Kenya had, before pulling out of the ICJ proceedings, also insisted that Somalia had in the past been in agreement on the status quo with regard to the Kenya- Somalia maritime boundary, a view that the court rejected in its ruling delivered by its president Joan Donoghue on October 12.
As the ICJ proceedings went on in Kenya’s absentia, the government of Kenya intensified its border security, including the elevation of Manda Bay Station in Northern Coast to a full military base.
The elevation of Manda into a military base last month, coming at a time Kenya had said it expected from the ICJ an adverse ruling that it would reject “in totality”, was seen as part of efforts to intensify surveillance on the border ahead of the expected adverse judgment.
However, the official position given for the elevation of Manda Base was the need to offer protection to the new Lamu Port and the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia transport corridor.
And yesterday, Mr Kenyatta cast the territorial integrity of Kenya as a sacrosanct bequest from the founding fathers.
In a speech flavoured with gems from folklore and teeming with symbolism, the Head of State quoted founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta as calling on future generations to not only defend their land, but also be “architects of the future”.