NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 17 – The Ugandan government on Tuesday began to withdraw its soldiers from the controversial Migingo Island.,
Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told a news conference that a survey on the land would begin immediately as agreed in deliberations held last Thursday between the two countries.
“I have just spoken to my counterpart in Uganda this morning (Tuesday) and he has told me that they are evacuating their security forces that are there and they will all be out by the end of this week,” he assured.
Ugandan soldiers have been on the island since 2004 but the situation worsened when they started charging Kenyans residency fees.
Mr Wetangula led a government delegation last week for negotiations where the two countries agreed on the survey within the next two months based on pre-independence boundaries’ documents including the constitutions of the two countries. The two countries further agreed to solve the crisis through the East African treaty.
“Fishermen from both countries will be free to fish in the area without any inhibition or harassment,” Mr Wetangula said.
The boundary between Kenya and Uganda is 970 kilometres but the border as well as that with other neighbours is not defined. Mr Wetangula announced that the government would embark on demarcation and survey of all its boundaries with its neighbours.
The exercise he said will be based on maps as drawn by the Organisation of African Union in 1964.
“Demarcation and survey does not mean altering, it simply means reaffirming and putting proper beacons and coordinates so that they can be captured on a GPS (Global Positioning System) and be points of reference,” he said.
The African Union has set 2012 as a deadline for all countries to survey and demarcate their boundaries as a way of avoiding future border disputes.
“Kenya has done that on its border with Ethiopia but we have not done Somalia, we have not done that on the Indian Ocean maritime area, we have also not done that with Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania,” he said.
The instruments of survey the Minister said will then be deposited with the AU secretariat and the United Nations.