Kenya-Uganda hold talks over disputed Islands on Lake Victoria
(22 January 2009)
According to reports Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga confirmed on 19th January 2009 that officials from Uganda have agreed to form a joint committee to examine the controversial boundary in Lake Victoria. Sovereignty over several islands within the lake are reportedly in contention including Sigulu, Lolwe, Remba, Oyasi and Ringiti. In addition, there has been a long history of complaints from fisherman in both Kenya and Uganda concerning mistreatment by respective security forces. A recent altercation in October 2008 saw fifteen Kenyan fishermen arrested near the controversial Migingo Island in Lake Victoria over claims of fishing trespass.
Announcing the formation of the joint committee, Kenyan Prime Minister repeated calls for patience while the issue is resolved, but did acknowledge that harassment by Ugandan security forces will not be accepted. Kenyan authorities also reiterated their claim that the islands are situated on Kenyan soil but in order to maintain good relations Kenya would be sending four representatives to meet Ugandan delegates in order to clear up understandings on the issue. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is expected to send a team to join the Kenyan delegation in hopes of achieving a lasting resolution.
Formation of the Kenya-Uganda joint committee for addressing the Lake Victoria boundary follows reports late in 2008 that the fishing ministry in Tanzania, which is the third littoral state on Lake Victoria, has encouraged negotiated settlements to boundaries within the lake.
Sources: ‘Uganda arrests 15 Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria’, BBC Monitoring Africa, 27 October 2008; ‘Kenya, Uganda in talks over disputed Lake Victoria Island’, BBC Monitoring Africa, 19 January 2009; ‘Borders to Be Drawn on Victoria’, The Nation, 4 November 2008.