Tuesday, April 21, 2009



By Maseme Machuka and David Ochami

A delegation of Ugandan ministers is in Nairobi for daylong consultations with Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula over the disputed Migingo island in Lake Victoria.

Ministers Sam Kutesa (Foreign Affairs), his two deputies Isaac Musumba and Okello Oryem, State Minister for Fisheries Fred Mukisa and Kirunda Kivejinja (Internal Affairs) were reported to have flown into the country yesterday.

The ministers were initially supposed to fly in on Sunday evening, but their flight was delayed as they had to hold further consultations with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who was at his Rwakitura rural home. Ugandan Press quoted Mukisa as saying that the meeting would take place in Nairobi (yesterday) to resolve the Migingo matter.

"The flight was supposed to be today (Sunday), but we couldn’t leave because we have to consult with the President before we go," Mukisa was quoted as saying.

Separately, Kenya’s Fisheries minister Paul Otuoma, who was to be at the meeting, claimed he had not been informed when the meeting was rescheduled.

"I do hope they are discussing a different issue and not Migingo. I am shocked at the composition of the Ugandan team because they are the ones we have been discussing the Migingo issue," he said.

‘Not aware’

Government Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua also claimed he was not aware of the meeting and promised to get back to us after counterchecking with the Foreign Affairs ministry.

"I am not aware of that meeting but I will get back to you," he said. However, he had not done so by the time we went to press.

Other sources at the Foreign Affairs ministry confirmed the meeting, but declined to give the location.

Yesterday, diplomatic and security sources intimated that the battle for Migingo could be a smokescreen to pressure Nairobi to deliver a negotiator for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) presently based in Nairobi.

And speaking for the first time, David Nyekorach Matsanga claimed "Migingo was a diversionary issue."

A diplomat based in Nairobi, who asked not to be named, disclosed to The Standard that Uganda was occupying the island in an attempt to compel the Kenyan authorities to expel Matsanga.

"The Museveni regime is opposed to Matsanga’s presence in Kenya," said the diplomat, who added that the Kampala government wanted the Kibaki Administration to expel him or silence his activities.

But Wetangula dismissed claims that the LRA had got anything to do with the raging controversy.

"The issue of the LRA has never featured in our talks over Migingo. I think those dragging the LRA into the mix are out disrupt our negotiations," said Wetangula.

He added: "Kenya has little to do with the LRA. What we want is Kenyans to give diplomacy a chance."

Wetangula was also categorical that Kenya had never received a protest note from Kampala over the LRA.

"Kampala is unhappy. It is particularly annoyed that Kenya is still allowing the LRA to have a base in Nairobi even though this organisation is listed as terrorist," the envoy had told The Standard.

Efforts to reach Ugandan Government Spokesman Fred Opolot and Foreign Affairs Assistant minister Musumba were fruitless as their cellphones were switched off.