Ali flies to Uganda over Migingo as Kenya denies sabotage claims

Published on 03/04/2009

By Cyrus Ombati and Kepher Otieno

Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali is in Kampala, Uganda over the Migingo Island dispute.

Sources said Ali flew there Thursday morning on President Kibaki’s instructions.

Migingo Island on Lake Victoria. President Kibaki has sent Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali to Uganda over the disputed island. Several meetings have failed to resolve the row as Kenyan fishermen complain of harassment by Ugandan security officials.

The top policeman is expected to meet top Government officials on the way forward over the raging dispute.

It was not immediately clear why the President chose to send Ali. It is believed the decision to have the police boss visit Uganda was arrived at after earlier political meetings failed.

Ali was a defence attache in Uganda from 1998 to 2001 and sources said this might help him understand the issue better.

Kenya had demanded that a Ugandan flag hoisted at the island be lowered by yesterday.

In turn, Uganda has accused Kenya of sabotaging efforts to resolve the dispute. It said Kenya had violated its independence by demanding the removal of its flag from the Lake Victoria island. Uganda Fisheries Minister Fred Mukisa also claimed Lands Minister James Orengo incited fishermen to remove the flag.

Mr Mukisa said Mr Orengo’s sentiments undermined Uganda’s sovereignty.

five days

Police Commissioner Maj-Gen Hussein Ali


But Orengo denied the claims, saying he simply told residents to wait for five days for talks to conclude before the flag could be lowered.

The two countries had agreed to undertake a mapping of the disputed island under guidelines set by Uganda and Kenya Colony and Protectorate (Boundaries) Order in Council of 1926.

“We are focused on the mapping and erecting physical marks after the joint study and interpretation of the 1926 mappings,” Mukisa said.

Last weekend’s meeting at the island aimed at resolving the ownership dispute, which threatens the spirit of the East African Community.

President Museveni has expressed regret, saying the row was a shame.

“It is a shame to argue over a small territorial dispute. We should be fighting for the creation of one country called East Africa,” he said.

The dispute erupted when Ugandan soldiers arrived on the island and hoisted their flag after lowering the Kenyan one. They also held hostage ten Kenyan police officers.

Kenyan fishermen have also complained of harassment from Ugandan security and fisheries officers.

Since then, several meetings between the two countries have failed to resolve the dispute.

Meanwhile, Kenya has denied accusations by Uganda that local leaders were sabotaging efforts to resolve the dispute.

Yesterday, Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode told Ugandan authorities to respect last month’s joint communiquÈ, lower its flag and withdraw soldiers from the island.

blame game

“It’s wrong for Ugandans to blame Kenyans while they are the ones fuelling trouble on the island by failing to honour the communiquÈ,” he said.

He added: “It beats logic for the Ugandans to hoist their flag on the disputed island yet these are part of the issues we agreed to put aside.

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