Museveni Directs PM Rugunda To Resolve Bulambuli Land Dispute

In his letter to Rugunda, Museveni acknowledges that several authorities his office deployed to resolve the land conflict have failed.

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President Yoweri Museveni has tasked the Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to resolve the land feud involving the Sabiny and Bagisu in Bulambuli district. In an October 13 letter, Museveni directs Rugunda to create time and go to Bunambutye in Bulambuli together with officials from the department of Survey and resolve the land dispute.

The contested land is found in Banambutye and Bwikonge sub-counties bordering Bulambuli and Kapchorwa districts. It is mainly occupied by the Bagisu, Babukusu, Sabiny and the Nandi. The Sabinys claim that, they vacated the 67,400-acre piece of land in the early 1970s at the height of Karimojong cattle raids.  At least 20 people have been killed and several houses burned as a result of clashes connected to the land dispute.

Between 2009 and 2012, residents of Bulambuli attacked and burnt 34 houses belonging to Sabiny families from Chema Village. They accused the Sabiny of illegally entering Buruguyi Parish in Bunambutye Sub-county with intentions of clearing the land for settlement. In 2010, the clashes attracted the attention of Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura, who set up an investigation team led by Julius Odwee, the then Deputy Inspector General of Police who has since retired from the force.

In his report, Odwe said there were several cases of land grabbing and irregularities in issuing land titles on the contested land. He recommended for the cancellation of the land titles there and prosecution of all land grabbers. In September 2012, the then State Minister for Internal Affairs James Baba directed that all the land titles issued irregularly between 2007 and 2010 be cancelled until clear verification of ownership is done. But to date, nothing has been done to that effect.

Some of the affected residents accuse government of sparking fresh trouble when it showed interest to buy the land for resettling landslide victims. George Wamala, the Bunambutye sub county LC V councilor says they are surprised that government has delayed to resolve the matter and instead gone ahead to express interest to buy the land under contention. He accuses government of playing double standards on the land. He wants government to establish the true owners of the land.

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Wamala says most of the landowners are stranded and homeless, something he describes as gross abuse their rights.

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Moses Wanambuko, a resident of Bukyabi village in Bunambutye whose is also affected by the land dispute says they have repeatedly received death threats since they returned on their land in June 2013. He says those claiming ownership of the land have on several occasions burnt down their houses, which has forced many residents to flee the area. Wanambuko wants government to expeditiously resolve the land conflict so as justice prevails.

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In his letter to Rugunda, Museveni acknowledges that several authorities his office deployed to resolve the land conflict have failed.