The Somalia parliament is expected to
demand answers today from President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government
over a recently signed controversial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with
Kenya. The agreement, which was signed
in early April, involved their
maritime boundary, but it ignited heated debate in the Somali government over
its legality. Somalia's parliament expressed deep concerns about the agreement,
saying the accord does not have a legal basis as long as it is not ratified by
the national legislature.
Somali parliamentarian Ismail Ahmed Nur told VOA that
most Somalis are deeply suspicious about the pact with Nairobi.
agenda of the parliament today, Monday, is to talk about the issue of the MOU between
the government and the Kenyan government regarding the demarcation of the
waters between the two states. So that issue has made a lot of sensitivity from
the Somali people and from the intellectuals," Nur said. "The issue is very sensitive so that members of parliament have
tabled a motion to discuss that issue in detail and inquire the government to
explain this MOU and discuss about excerpts of the MOU."
Nur said that legislators
would not hesitate to block passage of the maritime accord if it is not
determined to be in the interest of Somalis.
"If the parliament sees it
as necessary, it will nullify that MOU," he said.
He added that the Somali
public is not overly enthused about the agreement, which many are describing as
"It is not only the
insurgents, but the majority of the Somali people have made suspicions on this
MOU regarding the territorial waters between the two states because that has a
lot of hidden explanations within this MOU. So, that is why the parliament has
tabled this motion," Nur said.
He said some Somalis see the
haste in the signing of the accord as unnecessary especially as the government
faces a lot of problems that need immediate attention.
"First of all, a lot of
members of parliament as well as Somali intellectuals see the signature of this
MOU was not a priority for the government. As you know, we do have a lot of
other priorities like the work on reconciliation, to work on the stabilization
of the country, etcetera," he said.
Nur said although piracy is
not a part of today's motion in parliament, most parliamentarians are eager to
know the government's plan to address the menace that has recently caught
"I think the motion does not
concern about the piracy, but the piracy is a very important issue for us, and
we will ask the government if they do have any plans to counter this
piracy which now became an international problem," Nur said.
He said it is important for
the government to provide answers to parliament about the accord it signed with
"First, we will ask the
government to provide the parliament detailed explanation on this MOU. And if
the parliament sees that this MOU is not good for the country, we will make
resolution that the MOU is null and void and that the current government has no
capacity to change the sovereign articles of the state," he said.
Soon after the pact was agreed to with Nairobi, opposition groups
sharply condemned the deal. Both states acknowledged it would facilitate their
respective presentations next month before the UN Commission on the Limits of
the Continental Shelf. Under the MOU, both countries grant non-objection in
claims to the outer limits of their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical
miles to the Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf.
Observers believe the accord
between Mogadishu and Nairobi would be one of the biggest tests facing a new
Somali government since it was formed early this year, with its fragile support
within Somalia currently resting on whether it wins or fails in the battle for
the minds and hearts of people over an ever-widening divide over the pact.
An acknowledgment of rights to define the two states' continental
shelf is required under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),
because the preparation of a country's claim for submission requires the
cooperation of its neighbors.
Opposition groups say the Kenyan government submitted to
the United Nations what it described as a new maritime boundary demarcation
that takes huge chunk of Somalia's territorial waters, thus creating a
so-called maritime dispute that the MOU says will not prejudice the submission
of Kenya's claim to the Commission.
hard-line Islamic insurgent group Al-Shabab condemned the agreement, describing
it as a sellout to Kenya. Described by Washington as a terrorist organization
with close ties to Al-Qaeda, Al-Shabab demanded immediate cancellation of the agreement.
has refused to recognize the new Somali administration, describing it as puppet
of the west, and has promised eventually to take over the country and implement
Minister Abdurashid Ali Sharmarke stoically defended the agreement. He says it
is necessary to show cooperation between neighboring states in order to
demonstrate Somalia's claim for an extension of its continental shelf.
Somalia has been without an
effective government since 1994 when President Muhammad Siad Barre was
overthrown in a coup d'état.