ODM leader Raila Odinga has waded into the continuous debate on the ownership of Migingo Island, telling a crowd in Migori that the rocky piece of land in Lake Victoria belongs to Kenya.
Mr Odinga, who spoke in Masara, Migori County as he campaigned for ODM senatorial candidate Mr Ochillo Ayacko, said the government should urgently resolve the matter.
Mr Odinga added that the island should be a unifying factor in East Africa and should benefit fishermen from all the three countries.
ODM chairman John Mbadi asked Mr Odinga to engage with President Uhuru Kenyatta, in the spirit of the ‘handshake’, to resolve the dispute between Kenya and Uganda that has been going on for 18 years now.
“Kenyan fishermen have suffered for a long time in the hands of their hostile neighbours,” Mr Mbadi said.
Nyatike MP Tom Ondege said leaders cannot talk about the Migingo row forever. He asked both Nairobi and Kampala to get serious and put the matter to rest.
Earlier this week, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i demanded mutual respect from Uganda in tiff over the rocky island.
In a move meant to calm local fishers’ concerns, Dr Matiang’i said his officers were under instructions to protect Kenyans from what he termed torture by foreign security personnel.
The remarks came as a fresh dispute between Kenya and Uganda over the control of Migingo appeared to subside. That row started in 2009 and previous leaders have unsuccessfully tried to solve it.
But the CS said Kenya will continue to respect Uganda and expect the same as is tradition and expected of friendly neighbours.
“Respect is two ways. You cannot be fighting us and you want us to give you peace. We will protect our people by all means,” he said, assuring Kenya will not pick unnecessary quarrels but will demand its rights.
He added: “A good neighbour does not disturb others and always embraces understanding. We will work day and night to ensure the safety of our people.”
Kenyan fishermen have for long decried harassment by the Ugandan forces on the island.
By Daily Nation