Uganda has become the first and only country to congratulate Kenyan incumbent Mwai Kibaki even as the Ugandan army denied its deployment at the common border was meant to assist the embattled Kenyan President.
The Kenyan crisis is threatening to ground transport in Uganda which relies exclusively for her petroleum imports from its Eastern neighbor.
Reports say that even senior military officers are being turned away from the army run pumps as fuel dries up. Public transport fees have tripled and businesses are worried about stocks which also come by road from Kenya.
Ugandans are also bracing for even more power cuts as electricity production has in recent years come to rely on diesel run generators which account for most of Uganda’s diesel intake. Power production, a record lows, is now set to suffer as supplies run out.
Government officials are at pains to explain how in just a few days the country has exhausted its strategic reserves of fuel at the national depots in Jinja.
However information available indicates that the government procedure protecting the reserves has been in disuse for some time. Ideally the National Security Committee, a high level government body is the only one that authorizes access to the reserves.
In recent years corruption and patronage have led to access being made available to businessmen and according to one account, senior military families who have set up a myriad of petrol stations particularly in Kampala.
35 fuel tankers have crossed the Kenyan border with supplies but much of it is diesel and jet fuel- sources add and not much needed petrol. According to industry sources, despite supply side constraints from the Kenyan side, Uganda has no back up plan and the Ministry of Energy has turned to the petroleum companies for planning the country out of the crisis. The outcome of the Kenyan political crisis is important to Uganda not just so it can regain access to the sea for her imports but because Mwai Kibaki has been sympathetic to an East African Federation- the creation of which Ugandan President Museveni considers a key part of his legacy.
Following the collapse of talks to fast track the federation owing to reluctance from Tanzania, the Ugandan government dispatched a delegation to Nairobi to confer with Kibaki about going ahead without Daresalaam.
Insiders note that this – as been central to Ugandan policy in Kenya. However some political sources say the Museveni government would not have been comfortable with a win by Raila Odinga, Kibaki’s challenger considering the precedent it would set for Uganda.
Like Kibaki- Museveni won another term in office on the back of a disputed poll in 2006 even if there was little violence in the election.