Monday, 13 August 2012

What is causing conflict in Rwenzori sub-region?

On June 30, King Charles Mumbere visited Bundibugyo District and among other things set up a royal shrine and a flag at Kirindi Village in Bwamba County. Just hours after he left, clashes between the Bakonzo and Baamba-Babwisi communities flared, as the latter argued that they are not part of the Rwenzururu Kingdom. This left one person dead and hundreds of Bakonzo displaced. A month later, on July 1, the Basongora community, one of the minority tribes in Kasese District installed their King, Ivan Rwigi IV Kabumba Agutamba Bwebale Rutakirwa on grounds that they do not share culture and norms with the Bakonzo. This was also followed by tribal clashes. On July 30, a section of the Batuku tribe in Ntoroko District wrote to President Museveni banning the visits of both King Oyo of Tooro and of King Charles Mumbere of Rwenzururu in their area. Analysts point to these tribal clashes as part cause of the conflict in the region. Also pointed out is the creation of new districts that has sub-divided the area into tribal teritories. Prince of the Rwenzururu Kingdom Christopher Kibanzanga says: “There is something deeper in the Bundibugyo conflict than what meets the eye, therefore, we must also go deeper and investigate it because the Bamba and Bakonzo have lived together and intermarried for long without any problem.” Share This Story Expansionist factor Although the current districts are divided into tribal lines, cultural analysts say this should not be the consideration by government to recognise a cultural institution. “Kingdoms should not be based on the territorial factor but culture, this is just expansionism at play” an elder in Bundibugyo observed. In their petition against what they call “the territorial cultural expansions of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu and Obukama bwa Tooro over Batuku community,” the Batuku argue that the constitution regards them as a tribe. They have since formed an agenda called the “Anti-Kingdom interference Batuku community” that is fighting for their cultural rights. “We do not have the same cultures and customs with Batooro or Bakonzo” the group argues and adds, “It is factual that, there has not been a king of different indigenous inhabitants in Uganda” On August 3, the Banyabindi, one of the minority tribes in Kasese District secretly installed their cultural leader, Isebantu Elisa Mugisa Entare ya Banyabindi. They now want the government to recognise their King. King Mumbere believes that the abundance of the mineral deposits in his kingdom is driving minority groups to rise against his leadership in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts.

“We have fears that other ethnic groups are conniving to overrun the Bakonzo in order to take control of the rich areas of our Kingdom, especially the oil potentials. That’s why the current crisis is politically motivated,” King Mumbere said on July 11. Rwenzori region is being earmarked for oil and gas production as exploration already going on in Ntoroko district and more studies being carried out in the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Kasese. The Batuku in their letter to the President said, “Our sincere analysis is based on why now get interested in Butuku community when there is oil prospects in Ntoroko district”. The Batuku have warned government that there might be clashes between Tooro kingdom and Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu trying to “colonise” Ntoroko district. About 2.5 billion barrels of oil were discovered from 40 percent of the entire Albertine Graben. The King of Bunyoro is demanding for 12.5 percent shares of profits accruing from oil and other minerals in the Kingdom.