Migingo Island: Kenya wins the ownership controversy.
Migingo Island in Lake Victoria which was under dispute between Kenya and Uganda for the last two years has been resolved.
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Moses Wetangula, said that Uganda authorities have declared officially they have no claim over the Island.
Speaking at a Kakamega hotel in Western Province, Mr. Wetangula said it was still improper to quarrel over the tiny island in a time of regional integration and free market protocol where East African countries have abolished visa and work permits.
Dispelling fears of external interference, he said peaceful co-existence in the East African region would promote business ties and friendship, adding that Kenyans living in the Island are also registering as voters.
Mr. John Donaldson, a research associate at the UK-based International Boundaries Research Unit asserted that international border surveyors also agree that Migingo is within Kenya’s borders.
The Ugandan government had claimed the island is in its territorial waters and that it was illegal for Kenyans to fish around it.
The territorial row burst into the open with the eviction of some 400 Kenyan fishermen from the island, for refusing to part with Sh50, 000 annual operation fee demanded by the Ugandan authorities.
Kenyan police had withdrawn from Migingo after Ugandan military invaded it and hoisted their national flag, which was later removed after protests by Kenya.
Migingo island, which is about 4,000 square meters, has about 3,000 residents, majority of them Kenyan.
On political and security issues, Migingo controversy had raised questions on whether the current leadership in the region is serious about regional integration. This school of thought had somehow forced Kenya and Uganda authorities to address the issue quickly and amicably.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni discussed at length the issue recently and assured the citizens of the two countries of peaceful resolution of the conflict.
Historical records show that border disputes have been common in East Africa. In 1979, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin invaded Tanzania claiming that Ugandan territory extended deep inside Tanzania up to Kagera River. In 1974, he had angered Kenya by claiming that in the colonial era the Ugandan territory extended up to Naivasha.