Row Deepens as Uganda Security Detain Kenya Election Officers on the Disputed Migingo Island

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Kenya National assembly has tasked the government to expedite plans to end the simmering border conflict with Uganda over the fish-rich Island of Migingo on Lake Victoria.

The call comes amid concerns that Uganda security operatives arrested and reportedly manhandled Kenya Election officials who were engaging nationals in the on going voter registration exercise. A Kenyan Police officer is said to have been shot dead by Ugandan Operatives.

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“The government should tell us if it is unable to protect our people so that we can ask them to defend themselves from an aggressive neighbor” Kenyan Legislator Washington Jakoyo Midiwo said.

Voter registration has been suspended in the area.

Midiwo said the Ugandan actions are threatening the state sovereignty of Kenya. He asked the government to apply force if a diplomatic approach has failed.

“If the government is unable to use diplomatic channels, let us go to war to protect our frontiers,” he said.

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Uganda Police earlier insisted that if voter registration is to proceed, Kenya’s Election body, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) must write stating why the team was sent without their knowledge yet they know that this Island is under dispute, the Nation newspaper reported.

“We will detain the BVR machine until we are convinced what their mission to the Island was…we cannot just be ambushed here by people carrying machines we know nothing about,” nation quoted Ugandan officer on anonymity.

Meanwhile the arrest of IEBC officers sparked a wave of protests from Kenyans on the island, who insisted that they must be registered as voters.

“We had asked the IEBC to bring us their officials to enlist us before the expiry of the mass voter registration period but we are shocked that the neighbours are now interfering with the activities of the Kenyan government,” said a one John Obunge, the chairman of the Migingo beach management unit.

The island is currently being co-managed by a security Team from both Countries.

Kenyan Migori county (in which Migingo falls) governor,  Zacharia Okoth Obado said Uganda approach to the border rift undermines the spirit of the East African Community.
“Their actions are undermining the spirit of the East African Community,” he said.
He said Uganda security operatives have for long been harassing Kenyan Fishermen on the Island. It’s unfortunate he said, they have moved to high level national institution officers.
“After continuously harassing our fishermen, they have now turned on our officers. This is provocation of the highest order,” the governor said.

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