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IGAD Kampala meetings: Will Ruto bow to Museveni’s demands?

By Winnie Mabel January 18th, 2024 2 min read

Kenya’s President William Ruto is set to attend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development meeting set to take place in Kampala, Uganda, from January 19, 2024.

He is set to have two crucial meetings as well as bilateral talks with various Heads of states and leaders “aimed at strengthening diplomatic ties and underscoring Kenya’s role in regional and global affairs.”

As he flies out of on January 18, 2024, curiosity is rife on whether he will meet with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni after Kampala filed a law suit filed against Kenya at the East Africa Court of Justice.

Earlier this month, Uganda accused Kenya of denying the Uganda National Oil Corporation license to operate locally in Kenya and handle all fuel imports headed to Uganda. The court case was filed on December 28, 2023, after Kenya refused to issue a license to UNOC to operate as a local oil marketer.

Uganda now wants the court to compel Kenya to issue the greenlight because the country had backtracked on an earlier commitment it made in April 2023 to support Uganda’s quest to directly import its fuel beginning January 2024.

Kenya said that allowing Uganda to use its pipeline to transport fuel to Kampala would interfere with local oil marketing companies despite Uganda being its major trading partner and market for oil.

President Museveni’s issues with Kenya handling fuel products headed to Uganda but imported via Kenya began when Kenya signed a 5 year government to government deal with United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This move was meant to attempt to lower and stabilize the cost of fuel in Kenya but President Museveni said this deal ultimately disrupted fuel supply and demand in Uganda.

This deal saw the importation of fuel move from the Open Tender System which was price-competitive in nature to the government to government system which saw Uganda “exposed to occasional supply vulnerabilities where the Ugandan Oil Marketing Companies considered secondary whenever there were supply disruptions.”

Uganda then announced it would open its own refinery stocks in country and Tanzania; and work to cut out Kenyan middlemen who inflate the cost of petroleum products sold to Uganda after importation, costing Uganda billions.

As the IGAD meetings loom, it remains to be seen what will be the outcomes of a possible meeting between Presidents Ruto and Museveni to resolve these fuel import disputes.

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