Top level talks due on disputed Kenya islands

July 13, 2011 10:18 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 11 – Ugandan surveyors are due in the country on Friday to hold discussions with their Kenyan counterparts on the disputed Lake Victoria islands of Migingo and Ugingo.

Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Professor George Saitoti says the two countries will discuss establishment of necessary boundaries.

“They will be considering the boundaries for the islands, as well as deciding whether or not we have to review our boundaries to reflect the islands as our property,” Prof Saitoti said.

Also present at the meeting, the minister said, would be the taskforce on the disputed islands.

President Mwai Kibaki had earlier affirmed that the two islands lie squarely within Kenya’s borders.

“I have said time and again that the two islands are in Kenya. Kenyans and the world should ignore any claims on the contrary,” President Kibaki said during Madaraka Day celebrations last month.

He urged Kenyans and other inhabitants in the island to go about their day to day activities without fear and always strive to cultivate good neighbourliness for harmonious co-existence.

The row over ownership of the two rocky islands started last year when Ugandan security forces moved into them and started demanding taxes from the local Kenyan fishermen.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni took it further when he said Migingo island could be in Kenya, but the surrounding waters were in Uganda.

At a press conference in May last year, Mr Museveni explained that his remarks were based on colonial maps for both Kenya and Uganda which clearly showed the island was Kenyan and waters Ugandan.

He also vowed that no Kenyan fisherman will be allowed to fish in the waters surrounding Migingo Island and even singled out members of a Kenyan community living in Kisumu and Migingo.

“Mpaka inazunguka kisiwa (the boundary surrounds the waters), one foot in the water is in Uganda, so I am telling those jaluos who were rioting na wanang’oa reli (uprooting the railway). I want to go there and discuss with them. If we implement this, hakuna mjaluo atavua samaki (No Luo will fish) in this water here,” he said in the Monday interview.

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