Elections escalate tribalism in Kakumiro district

Leaders of CSOs in Bunyoro adress a Press Conference after their meeting at Hoima Resort Hotel in Hoima city.

Election observers have raised a red flag calling for a deliberate action to reconcile political rivals in the recently concluded elections in Kakumiro District to restore sanity in the society.

This was boldly highlighted during a review meeting for the concluded general polls in Bunyoro region.  Observes reported that much as the leaders look silent and far away from each other, continued provocations in community are still rampant.

Mr Brian Magara, an activist from Kakumiro said tribal sentiments revived by campaigns and elections last month might degrade earlier efforts made to neutralise tribalism.

It expresses fear for possible recurrence of tribal clashes basing on the 2003-2007 tensions between the indigenous Banyoro and migrant Bakiga communities that left scores beheaded in separate incidents in Greater Kibaale.

Sound bite: Magara on tribalism (English)

The clashes before 2010 also had roots in struggles for political power and associated privileges including control over land and other natural resources.

During a phone to phone interview with Kazi-njema News, Mr Daniel Kikoola, the Kakumiro Resident District Commissioner (RDC), said that he had gotten some reports about the clashes in the two days he has spent in office.

The head of security says he takes such reports seriously calling upon people to stop risking peace with shortsighted tribal attacks.

Sound bite: Kikoola on tribalism (English)

Mr Robert Muhangi, the Executive Director for Recreation for Development and Peace Uganda (RDP Uganda) said Civil Society Organisaitons that jointly observed the election under the leadership of the Mid-western Region Anti-corruption Coalition (MIRAC) have reacted to these challenges with a plot to launch a peace building mission.

Sound bite: Muhangi on tribalism (English)
Men view some of the carcasses of goats that were killed during tribal clashes between Banyoro and Bakiga in Greater Kibaale in 2001.

Ms Jenifer Baitwamasa, a Programme Officer at Navigators of Development Association (NAVODA) said the space for independent election observers and the media was too narrow to display a sense of transparency, thus, providing room for rigging in Kikuube, Kakumiro and Masindi districts.

She wants all claims to be captured in the final report of Bunyoro’s Civil Society Organisations on the 2021 general elections expected in two weeks.

Despite all the negative issues identified by the 150 observers plotted by MIRAC, Mr Ismail Kusemererwa, the MIRAC Executive Director, said there were rays of hope for democratic development in Uganda’s next elections.

He said they were continuing to prepare a comprehensive report about the state of elections in Bunyoro 2021 that will carry recommendations to guide the subsequent elections.

Sound bite: Kusemererwa on tribalism (English)

The Electoral Commission at national level said the elections were free and fair.

Dark times

Greater Kibaale that comprises Kakumiro, Kagadi and Kibaale districts has more than 30 ethnic groups including Bakonjo and Bafumbira among others with the majority being the indigenous Banyoro and migrant Bakiga. The two dominant ethnic communities have on several occasions clashed over leadership positions and land ownership.

In 2001, the conflict reached its peak when the two ethnic groups clashed after Mr Fred Ahabwe Rulemera; a migrant Mukiga was elected district LC 5chairman drawing protests from the indigenous Banyoro who told the then district LC 5 chairman Mr Sebastian Ssekitooleko Ssali (RIP) not to hand over  office to him.

It was after President Yoweri Museveni reportedly either coerced or convinced Mr Rulemera to step down that tribal tensions eased. Kibaale was then headed by a compromise LC 5 chairman, Mr George Nyamyaka.

Following the suffered brunt of tribal conflicts between Banyoro and Bakiga, care should be taken to avoid a replica of the 2001 scenario.

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