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Uganda protests Kenya’s mistreatment of Ugandans

The Ugandan Parliament has petitioned the country’s High Commissioner to protest against Kenyan police demands for bribes from MPs who were on a road trip to Nairobi.


This follows claims by two legislators that when they travelled to Kenya recently, different Kenya Police officers manning traffic stopped them and demanded money.

And, Parliament seemed to suggest when it referred to how Nigeria handled its diplomatic standoff with South Africa that Uganda could make it less pleasurable for Kenyans to travel through Uganda.

“If you read your passports, they say ‘this is to require, in the name of the President of Uganda, that you allow this person to move’. If they are objecting to our movement in their country, it is an insult to the President of the Republic of Uganda,” said the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

“It is very serious. We cannot go on like this. We are directing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue a diplomatic note immediately to the Government of Kenya,” she said.

When contacted Kenya Police spokesman Charles Owino who said it would have been prudent if the Ugandan MPs raised a formal complaint at Kenya’s foreign affair office in their country.

“I am not privy to that information apart from the media informing me. We consider MPs noble and I hope that discussion will be picked by our authorities in Uganda, usually the Foreign Affairs. It ceases being a local issue and becomes a protocol one, because though it is against police, these are foreigners and the complaint was made in their country. I am sure our mission in Uganda will be able to address the issue with the government.”

Earlier, Mbale Woman Representative Connie Galiwango had informed the House that during her trip to Kenya for her daughter’s wedding in Mombasa, different Kenya Police traffic officers at different roadblocks demanded money.

When she said she would not pay, she said, some of the traffic police officers held her briefly whereas others threatened to lock her up.

“I do not see how the East African Community is helping Ugandans. When Kenyans come to Uganda, we treat them well. However, when we are in their country, they mistreat us. Our leaders have to address this issue otherwise the problem will persist,” Ms Galiwango said.

Usuk MP Peter Ogwang said he had to cut short a journey to Kenya after “many policemen” asked him for money.

Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa said Uganda was the most open to free movement of nationals of East African Community member states within its borders.

“This matter is very serious. The Ministry of East African Community Affairs should object to the kind of treatment Kenya subjects Ugandans to,” Ms Nankabirwa said.

Kasilo MP Elijah Okupa said Uganda should reciprocate Kenya’s treatment on its nationals.

“When some Nigerian flew (from Nigeria) to South Africa and South Africa refused to allow them in because they did not have yellow fever (vaccination) cards, the Nigerians flew back,” Mr Okupa said.

He added: “When they arrived in Nigeria they reported the incident. And when (later) a South African Airways plane touched down at an airport in Nigeria, Nigerian customs officials said all South African passport holders should not alight from the plane unless they show HIV/AIDS status results.”

In March 2014, a prominent Kenyan Charles Njonjo argued that a referendum on East African unity is urgently required to properly legitimise the East African Community project among the people of all the current and proposed member countries.

“Failure to do this will mean repeating the mistakes of the past,” Mr Njonjo, a former Attorney General and Minister of Constitutional Affairs in Kenya, argued in an opinion piece published in The EastAfrican, a regional weekly.

Jimirasire

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