Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kibaki: We will resolve Migingo

President Mwai Kibaki (left) takes a drink during a public rally at Lumakanda in Lugari District on Thursday. He is flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi second (left), Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti and Dr Noah Wekesa Minister for Forestry and Wildlife. PHOTO/ JARED NYATAYA

President Mwai Kibaki (left) takes a drink during a public rally at Lumakanda in Lugari District on Thursday. He is flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi second (left), Internal Security Minister Prof George Saitoti and Dr Noah Wekesa Minister for Forestry and Wildlife. PHOTO/ JARED NYATAYA 

By NATION Team and PMPS

President Kibaki expressed confidence that the Migingo Island dispute would be resolved amicably. 

He said Kenya was committed to the ideals of the East African Community and would not allow any issue to be a stumbling block.

Speaking for the first time on the issue since the conflict over the ownership of the island erupted a few months ago, President Kibaki said: “We are committed to ensuring that the East African Community works for the benefit of all the people of the region.”

The President was addressing the public at Mulwanda and Busia Town on the second day of his tour of Western Province.

Border post

He said the government would instal a border post at Mulwanda and build a five-kilometre road to link Kenya and Uganda, adding that the authorities were working to improve all major roads leading to the border to speed up the transport of goods and people, in the spirit of the EAC. 

The President spoke as Prime Minister Raila Odinga expressed concern over the continued conflict between Kenya and Uganda over Migingo, saying it would undermine regional integration.

Speaking when he met East African Law Society officials at his Treasury Building offices in Nairobi, Mr Odinga said the stand-off demonstrated how far the region was from integration.

“How can we say we are pursuing integration when we cannot even agree over a rocky island?” Mr Odinga asked.

Migingo is a small island in Lake Victoria. Although Kenya says the island belongs to it and backs its claim by pre-independence maps, Uganda insists that it is within its territory and has deployed soldiers there since 2004.

A ministerial meeting between Kenya and Uganda recently ordered all forces withdrawn from the island as efforts are made to determine the ownership of the island. However, some of the Ugandan troops are still on the island.

Mr Odinga asked professional organisations to help in the push for regional integration and formation of a common market for East Africa.

He warned that the region risked being overshadowed economically as it drags its feet on integration.

“The days of fragmented states are gone. Europe has now become one village where you can travel from Greece to Ireland using only your identity card. Here in East Africa, we still insist on passports.

Changed attitudes

“East Africa can be a village like Europe. And that unity is not going to be found in documents. It is going to be found in changed attitudes,” the PM said.

Mr Allan Shounobi, the society’s president, said his organisation was keen to see independence of the Judiciary in the region’s states.

He said that the society wanted the states to commit themselves to eradicating corruption, which he said affected at the East African countries.

Mr Shounobi asked the Prime Minister to push for regional integration, adding that the officials were in Kenya to lobby for support and that of the other states “so that our organisation can grow.”

Reported by Lucas Barasa and Ouma Wanzala

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