EDITORIAL: Resolve Migingo dispute

Ugandan police patrol the Migingo island in Lake Victoria on June 26, 2018. PHOTO | JACOB OWITI

The Kenyan government’s decision to let the apparent territorial dispute with Uganda over the tiny Lake Victoria island of Migingo fester is unfortunate.

In recent weeks, the harassment of Kenyans living on the island has intensified, complete with humiliation of security personnel, who are disarmed and arrested by Ugandan forces as a routine. The boldness and impunity with which Ugandan security personnel are acting in the seemingly minor border dispute is telling.

Yet the leadership of the two countries continues to show what is clearly a false sense of camaraderie that has left ordinary citizens wondering whether they are aware of these problems but do not care or they simply do not know.

On Tuesday, for instance, as President Uhuru Kenyatta hosted his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni in Nairobi, Ugandan security personnel were active on the island ordering the closure of a nursery school.

No doubt Migingo’s ownership is a dispute that remains unresolved. That should be reason enough for authorities on both sides to restrain their agents in order to avoid an escalation as a diplomatic solution is sought. For it would make complete nonsense for Kenya and Uganda, who are East Africa’s most integrated economies, to throw all that out and go to war over this tiny piece of rock in the vast lake.

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