, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – The Migingo ownership row between Kenya and Uganda is expected to end once a joint survey by the two countries is complete, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have said.
During talks at the State House in Uganda, the two leaders called for a speedy completion of the survey which had stalled after surveyors called it off to consult their respective governments on details of the island’s location.
The talks between the two leaders focused on cross border security, trade issues, cattle rustling and losses incurred by landlocked countries due to delays at the Port of Mombasa.
The leaders agreed to initiate a joint sensitisation exercise along the borders to educate pastoral communities on alternative economic activities including farming and settlement as a means of ending the cattle rustling menace.
They also added that cattle rustling would be wiped out if both governments willingly pursued and extradited rustlers who fled across the border.
Cattle rustling, the leaders said, had impeded development among the communities on both sides of the border.
Mr Odinga said the Government of Kenya had embarked on a massive disarmament exercise among the communities along the borders and appealed to Uganda to do the same.
The Ugandan President on his part noted that combined efforts between Kenya and Uganda could suppress and eventually wipe out the cattle rustling vice along their borders. He added that the two countries could then jointly call on Sudan and Ethiopia to do the same.
The two leaders said the pastoral communities would see no need for guns if their governments stepped in to provide security and other services.
During the talks, Mr Museveni said that Kenya had the least portion of Lake Victoria waters compared to its neighbors. He further added that he was keen to see an end to the tribulations of fishermen struggling to earn a living out of the lake.
"I am determined to ensure Kenyans fish legally even if they are on the Ugandan side of the lake, and that will be ensured once we finish this survey," he said.
Mr Odinga meanwhile said Kenya was equally determined to finding an amicable solution to the row. He said Kenya and Uganda were too dependent on each other to disagree over territories.
The two leaders recalled their long ties to each other’s country saying it was even more reason why they needed to find a lasting solution to the cross border problems. Mr Museveni said he had long standing and emotional ties with Kenya, having spent time in the country during his battle to take over Uganda.
He recalled that the big size of the Ugandan portion of the lake became a disadvantage whenever he was escaping to Kenya via the lake.
Mr Odinga also said that with the full support of Mr Museveni, Uganda supported and offered him a safe passage into exile as he escaped from what would have been his fourth detention in the 1990s.
He said that it took him an hour to cross into the Ugandan waters in the middle of the night in a boat that was only guided by the stars in the middle of the night.
"I arrived here, and the next day, I received an emissary who brought me the good news that the President had said he would ensure my security and safe passage. I feel deeply attached to this country," Odinga said.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o, Fisheries Minister Paul Otuoma and MPs Yusuf Chanzu and Justus Kizito.