Kenyan protesters uproot rail link to Uganda

Nairobi- kenya (PANA) -- A section of a railway linking Kenyato landlocked countr ies to its west was on Wednesday ripped off by rioting slum-dwellers to protest U gandan soldiers' presence on Kenyan territory.
However, in a swift response posted on the office of the president’s website, Ka mpala said it would administer the Island until the issue was resolved.
“Until such survey findings are published, the status quo shall be maintained an d Uganda shall continue to administer Migingo Island,” the statement said.
The afternoon incident in which one person was critically injured, resulted in o ver 100 metres of the railway destroyed, and this will certainly affect supply o f essential goods to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Democratic Republic of Cong o and Southern Sudan.
The five countries, in addition to northern Tanzania, depend on the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa for trade with rest of the world.
The railway crosses through Africa’s largest slum, Kibera, home to nearly one mi llion people, who live in informal settlements.
Chanting “Migingo, Migingo, Migingo”, the protesters said they decided to uproot the railway to also protest a move by national electricity supply firm, the Ken y a Power and Lighting Company, to disconnect illegal users from the national grid .
The slum dwellers affected by the disconnections chased the power engineers away from the area before police were called in to quell the violence and to help en f orce the disconnections.
The residents vented their frustrations on the anti-riot police, who were armed with guns, batons and teargas.
Migingo, a one-acre Island in Lake Victoria is at the centre of a row between Ke nya and Uganda with either country claiming ownership.
Already, Uganda has deployed soldiers on the island, some 125 nautical kilometre s from the Ugandan shores of the lake and less two kilometres from the Kenyan si d e.
Ninety-six per cent of the world’s largest fresh water lake is in Uganda and Tan zania, with Kenya laying claim to just 6% of the water.
Uganda said “The contention arose out of conflicts amongst opposing bodies of fi shermen from the two countries.
” Kenyan public has been urging the government to deploy soldiers to the Island to repulse Uganda’s territorial claims on the Island, which, according to a daily n ewspaper, has huge oil deposits.
While the Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga has openly criticised Uganda Presid ent Yoweri Museveni for being “greed”, the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has main t ained silence to the chagrin of the wider public.
Destruction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway is the second in as many years.
During l ast year’s post-election violence, Kenyan protesters ripped apart the oldest art e rial between the two former British colonies after Uganda allegedly deployed sol d iers in western Kenya towns of Kisumu, Kakamega, Eldoret and Busia, who were acc u sed of killing and raping residents.
Two previous meetings — the first in Kampala in February and the second last mon th on Migingo Island — that were convened to resolve the dispute aborted when de l egations of the two countries nearly came to blows.

15 avril 2009 16:24:00

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