House adjourns debate to discuss Migingo row

Wednesday March 16 2016

The National Assembly in past session.  FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The National Assembly in a past session. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOHN NJAGI
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MPs on Tuesday adjourned debate to discuss Migingo Island, the centre of a dispute between Kenya and Uganda and where voter registration has been suspended.

Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, who moved the adjournment motion, said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff who had gone there to register voters were arrested by Ugandan security agents and a police officer reportedly was shot dead.

“The government should tell us if it is unable to protect our people so that we can ask them to defend themselves from an aggressive neighbour” he said.

He added that Migingo was closer to Kenya than Uganda and that Ugandans travelling to Migingo had to pass through Busia.

He asked the government to stop trade between the two neighbours by closing the free border.

He claimed people living around Lake Victoria were the third-highest taxpayers in the country and deserved government protection.

INVADE UGANDA

The MP wondered why the government had invaded Somalia to protect its territory and yet could not do the same against Uganda, which he described as a threat to Kenya’s sovereignty.

“If the government is unable to use diplomatic channels, let us go to war to protect our frontiers,” he said.

The dispute over the ownership of the island re-emerged during the national voter registration, after residents were denied their right to register as voters.

Kanduyi MP Wafula Wamunyinyi said the issue of Ugandan soldiers harassing Kenyans was a long-standing one and called on the government to intervene and find a lasting solution.

He criticised the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior and President Kenyatta for remaining mum over the matter, saying a solution should be found to ease the suffering of residents living on the rock as they could not engage in economic activities or even exercise their rights such as registering as voters.

The MP also threatened that locals would take up arms to defend themselves against aggression from their neighbours, and wondered what the role of the government was if the people were forced to resort to arming themselves.

QUESTIONED INTERPRETATION

He also questioned President Museveni’s interpretation of the Migingo Island dispute, where he has claimed that the water belongs to Uganda and the rock to Kenya.

Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa said the government appeared to be magnanimous to its neighbour regarding the Migingo dispute, saying it was time for a decisive action to end the stalemate.