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Fresh row over Migingo as Kenyan fishermen banned

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Denzel Musumba

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A new dispute has emerged in Migingo Island with Uganda security officers banning Kenyan fishermen from fishing in Uganda waters until the recently posted Kenyan assistant chief is withdrawn.The decision was arrived at on Saturday morning by Ugandan officers, who termed Kenya’s action of posting an assistant chief to the island as "jumping the gun" as issues of ownership of the island had not been resolved.Migingo Beach Management Unit Chairman Juma Ombori said Kenyans on the island were rounded up then informed that they would not be allowed to go fishing in Uganda waters until the chief was removed."The Ugandan police chief on the island, Mr Augustine Echoti, told us that as far as they were concerned, the waters belonged to no one at the moment," Ombori said.Mr Echoti is reported to have said that the Kenya Government should have been patient until the ownership row was resolved before posting an administrator to the island.Consequently, Uganda sent a new marine patrol boat to the waters, perhaps to ensure the order was completely enforced.Immediately after the announcement, two Kenyan fishermen had their two boats and engines confiscated by the Ugandan officers for defying the new directive.The Kenyan fishermen are asking the Government to move in and save them from the latest harassment and intimidation by their Uganda neighbours."We are so surprised that our armed officers are just watching as this is being done to us," John Obala, a fisherman, said.Nyatike MP Edick Anyanga asked the Ugandan security forces to respect Kenyans operating on the fish-rich island and to avoid actions that may bring conflict."It is important that those in the island continue with their life as we wait for the issue to be resolved," Anyanga said, adding that this can only happen when the fishermen are allowed to go on fishing.

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