The International Court of Justice (ICJ) Monday held a hearing on the maritime delimitation case between Somalia and Kenya at The Hague without Kenyan presence.

“We are deeply concerned that Kenya decided not to take part in this proceeding. Kenya has no ground to complain about its treatment by this court,” Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Khadar Guiled, who is the Somali delegation leader, said at the start of the online hearing.

Somalia has successfully concluded the first part of its argument in the maritime case, according to Somali Attorney General Saleyman Mohamoud.

“In this historic hearing, the government and people of Somalia are united in defending their seas,” Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said.

On Sunday, Kenya announced that it had pulled out of the public hearing, due to “bias and unwillingness of the court” to accept Kenya’s request to delay the hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Kenya wishes to inform the court, through the registrar, that it shall not be participating in the hearings in the case herein, should the same proceed from March 15, 2021, as presently scheduled,” Kenya’s Attorney General Kihara Kariuki said in a letter to the ICJ.

The dispute between the two East African neighbors relates to a resource-rich area of 62,000 square miles (160,580 square kilometers) in the Indian Ocean.

Somalia has a 3,333-kilometer (2,071-mile) coastline, which is the longest in mainland Africa.

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