Kibaki reaffirms only diplomacy will be used to resolve Migingo row


Published on 06/06/2009

By Stephen Makabila and Robert Wanyonyi

President Kibaki has once again assured Kenyans the row over Migingo Island, between the country and Uganda, would be resolved peacefully.

Kibaki urged leaders creating a furore over the row to stop, saying it is unnecessary.

“Kenyans and Ugandans need each other. We both know we are friends,” said Kibaki in Sichei village, Bungoma West District, during the burial of the late Esther Nekesa, mother of former Vice-President the late Michael Wamalwa Kijana.

Arusha Communique

Kibaki said the communique he signed with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in Arusha showed they were committed to finding a solution to the problem.

“We should not abuse neighbours when we are talking of being one thing in the East Africa Community,” said Kibaki, adding that funds were being sourced to develop a modern railway line to Uganda.

Kibaki said the country has also improved its relationship with neighbouring Sudan and Ethiopia.

His comments followed appeals by former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi, who was the master of ceremonies at the burial Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa, Assistant Minister Wakoli Bifwoli and Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo not to allow Kenya go to war with Uganda.

The three argued in the event of war, Western Province would suffer most and that Uganda was a key-trading partner.

“We should promote neighbourliness with Uganda and we should even be thinking of constructing a channel to link Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika to improve our lake trade with southern Africa,” said Jirongo.

Wakoli had hit out at Prime Minister Raila Odinga, claiming his persistent comments on Migingo, was worsening relations between the two countries.

But Wekesa defended Raila, saying the PM had kept a low profile over the row to give diplomacy a chance.

The team seeking to redraw boundaries of the disputed Migingo began its work in Busia on Wednesday this week.

The team started work at the point where River Sio drains into Lake Victoria, at Sio Port.

The survey is supposed to take two months starting from Sio Port going through the islands of Sumba, Mageta, Kihingiti, Remba and Migingo.

The joint survey will cost the two countries Sh280 million, Sh140 million for each.

Heated Argument

On Wednesday, however, Busia residents engaged the team in a heated argument, as they demanded explanations over encroachment on the no man’s land.

Residents demanded an explanation why Ugandan officials erected iron sheets across no man’s land.

They showed the team a spot where they claimed it had boundary beacons, but said Ugandans destroyed the structures 10 years ago.

 

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