Keep off our territory, PM tells Uganda

Published on 03/04/2009

By Allan Kisia and Robert Wanyonyi

Prime Minister Raila Odinga has told the Ugandan Government to respect Kenya’s sovereignty and to keep off its territory.

He cautioned Uganda on a day that President Kibaki dispatched Police Commissioner Hussein Ali to Kampala in efforts to find a solution to the dispute over Migingo Island.

Raila has at the same time condemned politicians who have scoffed at former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Dr Kofi Annan over his remarks on the need for Kenya to form a Special Tribunal for Kenya to try post-election violence suspects.

The PM came to Annan’s defence, saying it was unfair for politicians to tell him to leave the country alone and yet he had worked round the clock to ensure peace was

restored. On the Migingo dispute, Raila asked the Ugandan government to respect Kenyan borders and properties. He said all East African maps of 1926, 1952 and 1964 placed Migingo within Kenya’s borders.

“Even the constitution of Uganda says Migingo is in Kenya, and it’s not right for Ugandan authorities to provoke Kenyans over the issue,” said Raila.

He said Uganda’s Cabinet ministers were frustrating the work of the Inter-ministerial meetings formed to resolve the Migingo row.

Raila was speaking at Nangina Girls High School yesterday, accompanied by Cabinet ministers Paul Otuoma (Fisheries), Fred Gumo (Regional Development), Franklin Bett (Roads) and Henry Kosgey (Industrialisation). Others present were Assistant minister Ayiecho Olweny and Butula MP Alfred Odhiambo.

Military force

Bett, who is the Roads minister, sparked the Migingo debate, saying if he were the President, he would have solved the issue by military force.

“The only bad thing is that I am not the President,” added the Bureti legislator, who further called on Raila to ensure Uganda respects Kenya’s sovereignty.

Raila added: “We don’t want this problem to persist because we want our fishermen to go back to business.”

Raila said Uganda and Tanzania owned 94 per cent of Lake Victoria, while Kenya had only six per cent.

“Uganda’s rush to grab Migingo is like a rich man who sleeps in a bungalow going to take over a grass-thatched house owned by a poor man,” added Raila.

Last week, a meeting on the island last week attended by three ministers from Kenya and high-ranking Uganda officials ended on a sour note when Lands Minister James Orengo spoke to the residents in Dholuo, drawing accusations of incitement from the Kampala representatives.

On the Annan debate, Raila appeared to have sharply differed with Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka who on Wednesday said Kenya was not a failed state and was capable of resolving its problems without international help.

Kalonzo revisited the matter yesterday: “It has reached a time for Kofi Annan to let Kenyans deal with their own problems. We can’t expect him to continue baby-seating us forever. He should also leave us to take care of our own affairs.”

The Vice-President, who was speaking in his office ahead of today’s high-profile retreat for 12 Cabinet ministers charged with streamlining the affairs of the Grand Coalition Government, said: “Some of us have ideas of where we want to go. I believe Kenya will never be a failed state.”

Of the Geneva talks, Kalonzo said: “There is nothing as bad as washing our dirty linen out there. The leaders who went there represented the whole country and there was no need for the President, the PM or me to be there”.

But in his defence of Annan, Raila said: “Annan did not come to Kenya on his own. We invited him to help us because we had problems”.

Too forgetful

He said it was regrettable that some politicians were too forgetful. Wengine wetu ni kama ngiri. Ukiichapa hapa inaenda mita chache halafu inasahau na kuanza kula nyasi (Some of us are like warthogs. When you hit it, it runs only a few metres and starts grazing).”

Raila said leaders should be consulting before issuing statements on issues affecting the country.

Annan had given Parliament up to the end of August to set up a special tribunal to try violence suspects. Annan has warned that if Kenya fails to put in place legislation to set up the tribunal, he would hand the matter over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

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