Latest Clashes Leave 10 Dead
Uganda government stands accused of stoking tribal flames between the Baganda (the largest ethnic group in Uganda) and tiny section of the Banyala, one of its sub-groups. This has led to running battles between the police and youth groups culminating in full blown riots on Thursday night that led to 10 people dying.
The origins of this current conflict can be traced to the government’s intent to completely monopolize the oil and other mineral resources over the rights of the native communities that live on the ground.
The troubles on Thursday 10th September 2009 were characterized by a heavy military deployment complete with armored personnel carriers and battle ready national army soldiers. These same soldiers are seen guarding the current secret oil fields in Western Uganda suggesting that the same forces behind yesterdays clashes are also operating in what is being described as a “tribal” clash.
The Baganda claim that the Uganda government’s strategy is to have complete political control over the land and minerals includes the weakening or usurpation of the claims made by native communities. A pre-cursor to yesterday’s turmoil is the intense war of words between these two erstwhile friends over a proposed land bill that, amongst other things, proposes that native title reverts to government through its district land boards. The Baganda have successfully blocked this land bill and as a result the relationship has sunk to its lowest level in 20 years.
With this background the government, as part of its grand strategy, has proceeded to create by ceremonious recognition, claims to chieftaincy by any person no matter how remote in the region of Buganda. Once the claim is recognized the eternally grateful “Chiefdom” will then be more than willing to allow government access to its resources. In addition to this, in the case of Buganda, claims within its Kingdom give the impression of weakening the most powerful native voice in the country.
The current claim by no less then a serving captain in the Uganda national army is fraught with historical flaws and complicated by the fact that his own family has disowned him and re-asserted that they are Baganda. Hence the Kingdom of Buganda has refused to recognize him as they already have the channels through which they recognize the Banyala. The fact that the Banyala are the smallest group in the district (2.7%) and the Baganda the largest (32%) with no other group larger than 18% of the district population seems to support Buganda’s position. David Mpanga, Minister of research for the Buganda Government states that “the majority of the Banyala already voluntarily pay allegiance to the King of Buganda and live harmoniously with the other native groups in the region”.
Yesterday’s riots were a result of the standoff between the Kingdom of Buganda and Central Government where the police blocked the Kingdom’s advance party from traveling to the district as one of many such trips the King has made there in the past. The Central Government offered the misleading claim that they did it to protect the Kingdom officials to no avail. The subjects all over the Kingdom rose up in anger and prepared to set off for the district and were met by a joint force of army, Presidential Brigade and Police whom fired live rounds from armored cars till late into the night.
Buganda has agreed to engage government in discussions to ensure that the planned trip for tomorrow Saturday 12th September 2009 is successful but will not entertain such spurious claims to Chiefdom previously unknown in its 7 century history. President Museveni has set the condition that the Kingdom of Buganda must recognize this new Chiefdom and failure to do so will result in the tour being blocked.
As of filing this story gunfire can be heard in several suburbs of Kampala and surrounding towns in Buganda. And to complete the clampdown at least 5 radio stations, including the Kingdom’s two stations that broadcast in Luganda (the language of the Baganda), have been shut down.