President Ruto calls on Yoweri Museveni over fuel importation dispute

Ruto meets Museveni

President William Ruto (left) holds talks with President Yoweri Museveni at Uganda State House last year.

Photo credit: Courtesy | PCS

President William Ruto will meet his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni to resolve the fuel importation dispute that saw Kampala take Nairobi to the East African Court of Justice.

East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza said that the two leaders have scheduled a meeting to mend fences diplomatically following Kenya's decision to block Uganda's use of its pipeline to transport fuel.

Uganda had applied to use Kenya's pipeline to transport its fuel from the Port of Mombasa directly to the capital, Kampala, but Kenya rejected the request, arguing that such a move would affect its local oil marketing companies.

Ms Malonza downplayed the dispute, saying each member State of the East African Community has its own democratic principles and is, therefore, entitled to pursue its best trade interests.

"There is a scheduled meeting between the two presidents to discuss the impasse and Kenya will also seek to explain its position at the next East Africa Community (EAC) Heads of State Summit," the CS told journalists in Kitui at the weekend.

Ms Malonza, however, did not state the date and venue for the meeting, while State House is yet to release President Ruto's itinerary in the coming days.

"There is no cause for alarm because such trade disagreements are normal. Each country is founded on different laws and principles, that is why we deal with each other based on the binding treaties and other diplomatic protocols," the CS said.

Ms Malonza said Kenya constantly engages Uganda and all the EAC partner states on trade matters because the Community was established to work together for mutual benefit of the people of East Africa.

In an apparent softening of stance, Ms Malonza praised President Museveni for actively engaging Kenyan authorities on trade matters as the two countries look forward to resolving the dispute.

"Uganda is not only Kenya's largest trading partner, it is also the largest market for Kenyan oil. Nairobi and Kampala have coexisted very well since independence and both countries value each other's economic potential," said Ms Malonza.

She said that Uganda is a “Group A” market for Kenya's oil and it buys 90 percent of the commodity in the country, so it was natural for it to take a keen interest in the affairs of its main trading partner.

CS Peninah Malonza

East African Community and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary Peninah Malonza.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Ms Malonza spoke as the EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki issued a statement urging partner states to seek peaceful resolution of any disputes and to exercise restraint while strictly adhering to the spirit of the treaty.

Without directly referring to the case filed against Kenya at the Arusha Regional Court, Dr Mathuki urged member states to focus on achieving harmonious cooperation for the benefit of the people of East Africa.

"The operating principles of the Community provide that our integration is people-centered and that all our undertakings should strictly adhere to this spirit. In the event of disputes, we are expected to use the existing EAC Dispute Resolution Mechanism which fully respects the integrity and sovereignty of each State," Dr Mathuki said.

The case seeking to compel Kenya to allow Uganda to use its pipeline was seen as the final signal that relations between President Museveni and President Ruto had broken down for good.