Kenya calls for speedy resolution of territorial and immigration disputes with Uganda at JMC

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Kenya and Uganda concluded the second session of their joint ministerial commission (JMC), vowing to keep […]

Kenya and Uganda concluded the second session of their joint ministerial commission (JMC), vowing to keep the door open as they try to resolve stubborn barriers to trade, and a low-level territorial dispute over a tiny isle in Lake Victoria.

Speaking in Kampala May 14, at the end of two days of meetings between Ugandan ministers and their Kenyan counterparties, mild-mannered delegation heads, Gen. Odongo Jeje Abubakhar for Uganda and Kenya’s Dr. Musalia Mudavadi, expressed satisfaction with progress so far and optimism that lingering impediments to cross-border trade and immigration would be resolved.

The second session of the JMC comes three years late, having been shunted aside in the face of travel disruptions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. It also took place on the cusp of an official visit to Kenya by President Museveni, starting May 15.

Mudavadi observed that while the latest session had allowed the partners to review progress and many obstacles to cooperation had been discussed, the two countries needed to move resolutely to level outstanding issues.

“It is my desire that the issues on non-tariff barriers that have continued to hamper cross-border trade between our two countries are further discussed at length and a conclusive position reached to enable the augmentation of bilateral trade.

“It is also imperative that our other outstanding issues relating to immigration and boundary affirmation, which has progressed at a slow pace due to challenges related to funding, thereby impacting on the program of action, and other cross-border matters are addressed at the earliest,” Mudavadi said, calling for an action plan premised on a realistic timeframe and an amended monitoring and evaluation mechanism to guide the implementation process.

Mudavadi’s remarks were seen as a veiled reference to an outstanding dispute over the jurisdiction of Migingo island, a rocky outcrop in Lake Victoria, as well as seasonal migration into Uganda by armed herdsmen from Kenya’s Turkana ethnic group.

Uganda, which has been enforcing disarmament in its volatile Karamoja region, last year sentenced to 15 years in jail, 32 Turkana herdsmen, who had entered the country with firearms, as they searched for water and pasture for their herds inside Uganda. They were pardoned a fortnight ago. Mudavadi thanked Uganda for the gesture.

“Our meeting today underlines the commitment of our governments to further strengthen our strategic partnership and promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” said Gen. Odongo.

The meeting was also an opportunity to review progress and deliberate on obstacles and challenges to doing business. The partners would also endeavor to resolve outstanding and emerging issues.

“I am confident that if we openly discuss these constraints, we will enhance our mutual understanding, deepen our bilateral cooperation, enhance trade between our countries and promote common prosperity for our people,” Odongo said.


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