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Uganda: Migingo Row - Kenya Now Claims Busia

The border wrangles between Kampala and Nairobi have taken a new twist with a Kenyan legislator suggesting that parts of Uganda's Busia District belongs to Kenya.

Ikolomani MP, Boni Khalwale, was quoted by Daily Nation newspaper to have supported the unilateral declaration by Kenyan surveyors that the rocky Migingo outcropping on Lake Victoria is within Kenyan territory.

"The survey also indicated that Busia constituency in Uganda belongs to Kenya. This development has alarmed the Ugandan government that she has decided to withdraw her experts," the paper quoted the MP as saying, adding: "The President [Mr Kibaki] should make a tour of the disputed land, hoist a flag and have Kenyan administration police based there."

The claims, made on Sunday, could stoke further trouble for diplomats working quietly to defuse the tension caused by recent media reports that President Mwai Kibaki had told a rally in western Kenya that they won the contested Migingo

Earlier, Nairobi and Kampala agreed to resolve the border dispute amicably though a joint border verification exercise but the technocrats abandoned work midway after differing on the procedure for conducting assignment.

As the Ugandan surveyors returned for consultations in Kampala, as agreed under the initial accord between Presidents Museveni and Kibaki, their Kenyan counterparts went home declaring the island theirs.

However, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa told Parliament yesterday that he had formally written to his Kenyan counterpart, Mr Moses Wetangula protesting the Kenya's premature ownership claim over Island.

"Kenyans are putting the cart before the horse," Mr Kuteesa said, "As far as I know, there is a joint border survey taking place between Uganda and Kenya to establish where Migingo falls. There is no way Kenya can say they have concluded the joint survey."

Samia Bugwe North, a constituency that borders Kenya, was formerly represented in the 7th Parliament by Uganda's current Information, Communication and Technology Minister Aggrey Awori, whose brother Mr Moody Awori, was until last year the Kenyan vice President.

Authorities in Uganda yesterday described Kenyan MP Khalwale's proclamation as "useless day dreaming."

Mr Daniel Omara Atubo, the Land Minister, said the MP's populist talk is "useless ping pong" because Uganda can only be bound by a joint decision of technocrats "not sentiments of a few politicians."

MP Sarah Mwebaza, whose Samia Bugwe Constituency is being claimed by the Kenyan law maker, said: "The western part of Kenya is Jaluo land and people there speak Luo, but in Busia District they are Bantu. So that means they are supposed to be in Uganda."

In a separate interview, the Ministry of lands spokesperson, Mr Dennis Obo said the Kenyan team that initially claimed to have finalized the border survey exercise, are now requesting for more time to "finish consultations" with their government. The exercise, he said, is expected to resume next week and be completed within a fortnight.

Source: Monitor

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