By Raymond Baguma
An international civil rights organization that defends rights of indigenous communities has asked government to probe the historic causes of ethnic tensions in Rwenzori region following last week’s bloody clashes.
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) which works to secure rights of ethnic, religious, linguistic minorities and indigenous people in a statement noted that tensions have been high in the region but with little attention from government.
The organization condemned the ethnic attacks reported in Ntoroko, Kasese and Bundibugyo districts, which claimed the lives of at least 72 people including civilians, soldiers and police officers.
The deadly clashes are linked to longstanding tribal differences between Bakonzo, as well as minority ethnic groups of the Bamba, Basongora and Banyabindi.
President Yoweri Museveni in a statement linked the killings to loyalists of the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu of the Bakonzo, although the Rwenzururu kingdom distances itself from the attackers.
“This is the right moment for the government to walk the talk,’ said Jolly Kemigabo, MRGA’s Office Manager in a statement issued on Wednesday.
“We all know there are historical injustices suffered by some ethnic groups like the Basongora, who lost land, but the government has failed to resolve their issues,” Kemigabo added.
“The government, with the involvement of all stakeholders, has to push for peaceful co-existence, while addressing deep-seated inequality and discrimination leading to the political and social exclusion of minority ethnic groups,’ said Kemigabo. “Such steps should include resettlement or compensation for evicted communities, and the economic empowerment of marginalized groups,” she added.
The statement noted that minorities and indigenous peoples in Uganda remain invisible and rank poorly on all health and economic development indicators compared to national averages.
Civil society asks gov’t to probe history of Rwenzori ethnic tensions