Migingo Island belongs to Kenya and President Uhuru Kenyatta should do everything to secure it, CORD leader Raila Odinga has said.
Raila asked the President to order a withdrawal of all Ugandan soldiers from the disputed island and stop negotiating with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
Speaking in Bondo town yesterday, Raila pointed out that although the President swore to protect Kenya’s borders when he took over power, he has failed to honour his word.
“President Uhuru should stop begging his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni over Migingo Island and lay full claim to the island,” Raila said during the rally.
The former premier wondered why the President was taking the matter casually yet so much was at stake. “Uhuru is laughing with Museveni while the Uganda People’s Defence Force army is terrorising innocent Kenyans on the island. Migingo is within the Kenyan territory from colonial times and we cannot cede it,” he said.
On Thursday, the Joint Border Commissioners said Kenya and Uganda coordinators will be appointed to determine “once for all” where the disputed Migingo Island falls. The territorial debate on Migingo Island has sprung back in the news following attacks on Kenyans living there by Ugandan forces.
Just recently, two Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) clerks who had gone there to register voters, were arrested by Ugandan security agents and a police officer reportedly shot dead. The clerks were detained before being released after intervention by the Kenyan authorities.
Earlier this week, MPs adjourned the National Assembly debate to discuss the fate of Migingo Island as a matter of national importance.
Deputy Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo moved a motion over the security situation in Migingo and questioned why the government is dragging its feet in resolving the issue.
“Kenya is slowly ceding ground to Uganda. What is the role of Kenyan forces in protecting the sovereignty of our country? Our government cannot sit and watch as an external aggressor harasses Kenyans on Migingo Island,” said Midiwo.
He maintained that the island belongs to Kenya because Ugandans have to use motorboats through the Busia border to access Migingo, which eight kilometres offshore of Muhuru Bay.
“They keep coming and going at will. What is worrying is that the attacks seem to increase as we approach elections. Can this government protects its citizens without discrimination?” Midiwo said.
He added: “At night, these rogue soldiers cross over to Kenya through the borders to steal from our people. We must rein in on our attackers who have developed the appetite to intrude the neighbours territory.”
Midiwo faulted the government for sending the Kenya Defence Force troops to Somalia to protect its frontier yet it is unable to do the same for Migingo residents.
“This government has misplaced priorities. How can we deploy the military to man a mini poll when our people are dying? Why are we violating our own Constitution?” he posed.
Other leaders from Nyanza have also weighed in on the matter.
Migori Governor Zachary Okoth Obado, threatened to storm the island to tell off the Ugandan security officers harassing Kenyans. Speaking in Migori town this week, Obado said it was improper for Ugandan security officers to beat up civilians and law enforcers on Kenyan soil.
“This is about territorial integrity. We must protect our land, our people and our property at all costs. We are tired of begging foreigners to leave our land. Even President Museveni knows Migingo is in Kenyan territory and we will not allow his police officers to beat up our people for no apparent reason,” Obado said.
Migingo is a tiny 2,000 square metre island reputed for its fish riches and attracting huge populations of fishermen and cross border business people.