, LUSAKA, Zambia, Apr 7 – President Mwai Kibaki met his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday to discuss the contentious ownership of Lake Victoria’s Migingo Island even as nine Kenyan fishermen were detained.
A statement from the Presidential Press service said the two leaders had agreed to have the issue settled to avoid endangering the good relations between their two countries.
“The two leaders agreed that the matter must be resolved amicably and within the context of the joint communiqué signed between the two countries on 13.03.09,” the statement said.
Under the agreement, it adds, there is to be an immediate withdrawal of all security forces from the Island to create an enabling environment to carry out a joint border survey.
And even as the two leaders met, nine Kenyan fishermen arrested on Monday were still being detained at a camp in the controversial Island. No charges had been preferred against them.
The fishermen were arrested by Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) for ‘fishing in their waters’.
"Nine fishermen from our side were arrested and are being detained by Ugandan forces. We are trying our best to secure their release," Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said.
"We understand they were arrested because they were fishing in Ugandan waters. We have no more details on the issue but senior officers from the Provincial headquarters in Kisumu are following it up," Mr Kiraithe said.
At the Lusaka meeting, the statement said, President Kibaki and President Museveni ordered that the survey be expedited and undertaken within the shortest time possible.
“Fishermen from the two countries are to be allowed access to adjacent waters and be guided by fishing regulations as agreed upon under the Lake Victoria Fisheries organisation,” the statement said.
The two leaders also agreed that there shall be no harassment of fishermen from both sides.
President Kibaki and President Museveni underscored the importance of maintaining peace in the region.
The leaders pointed out that peace and stability were the cornerstone of attaining the wider goals envisaged under the EAC integration process.
They noted the need for all East Africans to focus on the bigger picture of ensuring that the people of the region benefit from the shared resource of Lake Victoria.
The two leaders met in Lusaka where they attended the North-South corridor high-level conference also called for increased investment on the northern corridor noting that the corridor served eight nations in the region.
The two noted that increased investments in infrastructure was the only the way of enhancing intra-Africa trade.
The talks were attended by Cabinet Ministers Moses Wetangula and Amos Kimunya and Assistant Minister Peter Munya.