and Leo Odera Omolo
LOCAL leaders in Kenya have threatened to block its trade routes if Uganda does not vacate the disputed Migingo Island.
The leaders from Kisumu vowed to call for a protest, saying Uganda had continued to maintain its armed forces on the island, which contravened the Kampala Agreement.
This was disclosed in a meeting of the Nyanza Strategic recovery Forum in Kisumu on Wednesday.
Kochiel Oloo, the forum chairperson, chaired the meeting in which the leaders resolved to mobilise the locals to block the transportation of goods and fuel to Uganda if her troops do not leave the island.
They demanded that Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declare the rightful owner of the island.
â€œWe heard that Kibaki is with (President Yoweri) Museveni in Burundi. He should now tell Kenyans what they discussed,â€ Ogalo said, adding that the dispute was affecting economic activities in the area.
The local leaders also demanded that Uganda lowers its flag, an issue which was rejected at a meeting between the Ugandan and Kenyan ministers at the Island recently.
The chairman of the Luo Council of Elders, Riaga Ogalo, the vice-chairman of the Inter-Faith Network, Salim Ahmed and Archbishop Abakuk Abongo attended the meeting.
Ugandaâ€™s internal affairs state minister Matia Kasaija on Saturday said the Government was aware of the threat.
â€œWe have intelligence and we know what is going on,â€ he said.
He blamed the Kenyan leaders for trying to sensationalise a matter, which he said was being resolved.
â€œThe matter is being handled at the highest level. The two presidents are handling it. Kenya seems to be having other issues and is only using this as a scapegoat. How can we fight for less that an acre of rock?â€ he asked.
The minister said the border demarcation was a technical matter which was being assessed by a surveyors.
He advised leaders of both countries to focus on how to strengthen their working relations rather than conflict over the island.
â€œWe also serve 30% of the Kenyan markets with our goods. We should be talking about increasing food production,â€ he said.
Kenya threatens to block Uganda cargo over island