KENYA SUMAKU

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From the Daily Monitor (Uganda)

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on May 16, 2009

Museveni right and wrong over Migingo?

Editorial (15th May 2009)
President Museveni this week stoked the fiery dispute over Migingo in a speech he made before students at his alma mater, the University of Dar es Salaam.

It is not the statement – that while the island might be in Kenya the water next to it was in Uganda – that angered Kenyan MPs to the point of some calling for a declaration of war. That, after all, would appear as a concession from the President. It appears to have been the language that President Museveni used – he described some of the Kenyan fishermen and the angry youths who have been uprooting train tracks to Uganda as mad – that drew the most acerbic responses.

The government has clarified that the President’s words were taken out of context and it must be appreciated that Ugandan officials have been admirably restrained in their public comments on this matter while many of their Kenyan counterparts were straining at their leashes.

President Museveni, nevertheless, could have used more diplomatic language in his remarks on a matter that has raised emotions on both sides of the border. Alternatively, he ought to have stuck to the script and said, as he has done before, that the two governments would take a decision after receiving a report from the survey team currently poring over maps and other relevant documents.

There is, however, method in the madness. President Museveni is right in pointing out the irrationality of the colonial borders which split tribes, communities and families down the middle in many areas.

The clamour for Migingo is not for the island itself but for its strategic importance as a staging point for fishermen and traders. If Museveni is right and the island lies along the border in Kenya, it means that while Kenyan fisherman can use it as a harbour, they would be violating Uganda’s territorial sovereignty if they did so much as cast their nets over its rocky edges. The island would therefore be as useful to them as a comb to a bald man.

President Museveni is right when he says that the solution to these and other problems lies in dialogue about how to share cross-border resources but that dialogue must be calm, reasoned, and conducted in civil language that respects all concerned. That, after all, is the true spirit of East African cooperation.
– So whether the head is bald or not, should anybody take the comb from the kipara? Suppose the kipara has grandchildren? All this does not ADD up brothers! (Editor)

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