Nairobi (Commentary) — President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is not only the first Somali president to have been elected twice, he is also the first Somali president to have inherited a legal case from a predecessor administration twice.
The first case was the maritime dispute with Kenya following the ill-advised Memorandum of Understanding that Abdirahman Abdishakur signed with his Kenyan counterpart in 2009. President Mohamud started the legal proceedings to challenge Kenya’s interpretation of the MoU. The government of his successor, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, had overseen the case that was decided at the International Court of Justice in Somalia’s favour.
The second case involves the serving Petroleum Minister Abdirashid M. Ahmed, who signed an illegal production sharing agreement with Coastline Exploration Ltd despite a presidential decree against signing agreements during the transition in place.
The Presidency and the Office of the Prime Minister nullified the agreement, but that is not enough. A legal opinion from the new dispensation on the production sharing an agreement can clarify the position of the Federal Government of Somalia on an agreement whose consequences for our natural resources are wide ranging due to a unilateral decision by a ‘rogue’ minister who is enjoying unwarranted protection against prosecution.
According to the corporate website of Coastline Exploration Ltd, the company was “founded in 2018… to help develop the hydrocarbon industry within East Africa.” Coastline Exploration Ltd enumerates hydrocarbon exploration initiatives in Somalia, with particular attention to exploratory seismic data acquisition activity from 2012, after the end of the transition.
Soma Oil and Gas is the company whose involvement in hydrocarbon exploration in Somalia has been widely reported. It is still an active company. The Federal Government of Somalia has not informed national stakeholders about how Houston-based Coastline Exploration Ltd managed to sign an illegal production sharing agreement with the Petroleum Minister. Has Soma Oil and Gas, of which former Somalia Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was once a Director, changed its name or sold interests to Coastline Exploration Ltd.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud knows how the Federal Government of Somalia signed agreements with Soma Oil and Gas, and can share public interest information on how the company that claims to have signed a valid production sharing agreement in February 2022 had acquired the data collected by Soma Oil and Gas.
Every Somali citizen must write to his/her MP or Senator to urge President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to clarify his position on the illegal production sharing agreement with Coastline Exploration Ltd.
Siyad Ali Jama, Nairobi