BY NDERITU NDEGWA
NAIROBI, Kenya, June 1 – President Mwai Kibaki on Wednesday declared that the disputed Migingo and Ugingo islands in Lake Victoria were in Kenya.
Ugandan security forces operating at the two islands, both lying about 15 km from the shorelines of the lake on the Kenyan side of the border have in the past defied exit orders issued by the Kenyan government.
“We have intensified patrols along our borders. I wish to re- assure that the islands of Migingo and Ugingo lie squarely on Kenyan territory in Lake Victoria and we should not waste anymore time now squabbling over them anymore,” said President Kibaki during the 48th Madaraka day celebrations in Nairobi.
The Head of State said his government will however not behave in a manner likely to strain the good relations between the two East African nations
“Let us always aspire to live harmoniously with our neighbors. A peaceful region holds much promise with our neighbors for our people who have a great potential to do business and get jobs across our borders,” said President Kibaki.
The Cabinet early this year approved the creation of a new Department of International Boundaries within the Foreign Ministry to demarcate the country’s international boundaries following the increase in the number of boundary-related disputes.
Kenya’s boundary with Ethiopia is the only one that is officially demarcated. But the boundaries with Sudan, Uganda, Somalia and Tanzania remain largely unmarked.
Gwassi MP John Mbadi in whose constituency the island is located has been leading a campaign to have the government resolve the Island’s row which he has described as President Yoweri Museveni’s ‘expansionist policy.’
Parliament passed a motion seeking the intervention of the UN Security Council to resolve the Migingo dispute two years ago.
The motion tabled by Ikolomani Member of Parliament Boni Khalwale survived attempts by the government who tried shooting it down.
In passing the Motion, the legislators said there was an urgent need ‘to seek the assistance of the UN Security Council to deal with this issue as a matter constituting a threat to international peace and security under the UN Charter.’
In his contribution, Dr Khalwale told the House that government ministers had misled President Kibaki by hiding behind what has now become a clichÃ© to the effect that ‘Uganda is a friendly nation.’
The dispute in Migingo was fuelled when Uganda President Yoweri Museveni issued what Kenyan MP’s termed an â€˜alarming statement’ to the effect that the Island was in Kenya but the waters surrounding it are in Uganda.
Already, the two countries have contributed money to help in the demarcation process which Kenyan MP’s have rubbished “as a waste of taxpayer’s resources.”
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