Ford Kenya leader Moses Wetangula has criticised the government for failing to put its foot down in the dispute with Uganda over the ownership of Migingo Island on Lake Victoria.
The Bungoma senator, who served as Foreign Minister from 2008 to 2010 during the Grand Coalition Government, claimed that the island is within Kenyan territory, but has been occupied by Ugandan authorities illegally.
"It’s just about three kilometres from Muhuru Bay shores to Migingo, yet Ugandans come with boats from about 200 kilometers away, chase our police officers and then erect the Ugandan flag," the senator told the Nation Thursday.
Mr Wetangula spoke a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni announced they are resolving the controversy surrounding the island that started in 2006.
President Kenyatta said they had agreed to form a formal border commission to handle the dispute. "This commission will not just look into Migingo, but also address challenges on other points to conclude the dispute in the shortest time possible."
They also agreed to jointly explore Lake Victoria's resources together and ensure that fishing is done in a sustainable manner.
Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and her Ugandan counterpart Sam Kutesa seek to strengthen relations.
"We aim for long-term solutions, especially on the issue of the border between Kenya and Uganda, so that communities living along the lake can coexist peacefully in harnessing and maximising utilisation of the regional resources," Dr Juma said.
However, Mr Wetangula dismissed the proposal on establishment of the commission, revealing that the two states had jointly surveyed the area and established that Migingo is on the Kenyan territory, but heaped blame on Kenyan authorities for failing to safeguard the area.
"As a minister in charge of foreign affairs then, alongside national security team and our counterparts in Uganda jointly raised funds; and we did [a] survey from Kibish Southern Sudan to the border with Tanzania. The problem has been the failure by our government to deploy the police in the area and erecting our flag. We have been absent," he said.
He added that over 90 per cent of people residing and doing business in Migingo are Kenyans.
He however welcomed talks between the two presidents, hinting that the move is geared towards strengthening diplomatic relations.
Uganda is Kenya’s major trading partner, and thus the two nations must ensure cordial relationship is fostered, he said.
He further called on the two countries to work together in finding more partners to expand Mombasa–Malaba-Kampala highway into a dual carriage, a step he says will ease transport and improve bilateral trade.