Like we said in the earlier post, Migingo or Mugingo island row [ largely an issue for Kenyans] is now becoming a problem that Uganda may need to respond to seriously. Our view is that this has to do with the projection of Kenya’s current political challenges, largely a carryover of the problems of the 2007 disputed election, to its neighbor Uganda.
Yesterday in a conversation with us consultant and career politician Yona Kanyomozi who also served as cabinet minister in the 80’s and recently was involved with efforts to promote the East African Community said a more Uganda cannot ignore the loud noises being made by some Kenyan MP’s.
” There needs to be a careful analysis of who is saying what in order to understand why” he said its likely that Opposition MP’s alligned with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga [ he accused Uganda of sending the UPDF to assist his rival keep power at Nyayo House] doing most of the talking.
” There is a perception of Uganda as greedy and militaristic” he added. This he says is not helping matters.
Indeed the Kibaki administration is in step with Uganda over the matter. While inhabited mostly by Kenyans, Mugingo like Rukwanzi, is in fact within Ugandan territory. An attempt by the Yoweri Museveni and Kibaki to resolve this quietly may now not be possible with Migingo taking a place in Kenya’s own political brawls.
That said this mess has about three messages worth considering. One is that Kenya is still fragile [ our own view is prone to a military coup] if there is another wave of violence [ and it is not far fetched for Migingo to provide that spark] the Kenyan army, long a fence sitter may intervene.
Some say this is not possible but then they said Kenya was an island of stability too. The peace process for which Kofi Anan has been credited has not yet succeeded. There appears real resistance to progress because the configuration of the peace has remained at the top and not bottom of Kenyan society.
Secondly, and briefly that East African Federation is still generations away from happening and the political leadership should stop acting as if pronouncements and secretariats for this and that will do the trick.
Lastly that Uganda needs to reach out to Tanzania for an alternative route to the Indian Ocean. Commercial interests are even more important than the inflated comments of a handful of Kenyan politicians and aught to be at the core of not just Migingo but the relationship between the two countries.
An alternative route via Lake Victoria is badly needed. We recommended this before May 2007 several months before the Kenyan crisis but were not heeded. It will help relieve some on the pressure on Uganda and others like Rwanda, Burundi and Southern Sudan whenever Kenya catches a cold.
Uganda after all cannot afford a prolonged standoff with Kenya, a larger, more settled economy even if it could try and leverage its role as a market for Nairobi.
” Thats why in our shortlived [ Obote 2] government i pushed for and succeeded in putting ships on the Lake. We have been at risk from bullying of Kenya since before independence” Kanyomozi told us.