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Ugandan Opposition Figure: Rwenzori Violence Caused by Government Policies

  • James Butty

Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye

Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye

The former leader of Uganda’s main opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change, said President Yoweri Museveni’s government is to blame for the Rwenzori violence earlier this month that left about 90 civilians and security personnel dead.

Kizza Besigye accused the government of fueling ethnic friction by partitioning the country into tribal enclaves.

But, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo reportedly said Besigye is a “prophet of doom.” Opondo said the violence western Uganda took place because the tribes failed to manage their internal problems.

Besigye said Museveni has been undermining traditional institutions and pitting them against each other.

“I said that the tensions there have been built by actions of government and, in fact, by actions of Mr. Museveni, specifically, who not only in that region, but in whole country, has been causing divisions among the communities in an attempt to manipulate them for political gain,” he said.

Besigye accused Museveni of attempting to create administrative institutions based on ethnic groups. He said the Ugandan leader has also tried to arm some of the communities.

“And so, there had been tensions developed through the actions of government. And so, it’s not surprising that those tensions eventually ended in violence. In fact, one of the reasons why some of the communities would be looking for guns to arm themselves is because he has actually armed some of the communities against others,” Besigye said.

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo reportedly called Besigye a “prophet of doom.” Opondo said the violence in Rwenzori took place because the tribes there failed to manage their internal problems.

Besigye said the government should respond directly to his allegations and not just call him names.

“It’s not the tribes that created administrative units. It is Mr. Museveni who does and, therefore, divides the societies administratively by laws and putting new leaders in the new administrative entities he creates. It’s not the tribes who have been dividing their land between the pastoralists and cultivators,” Besigye said.

He said Rwenzori ethnic tensions could eventually spell political disaster for all of Uganda.

“Ethnicization of politics, pitting communities against each other and the divide and rule policy, eventually can lead to a total disaster for the country through identity conflict, as we have seen in many parts of the world,” Besigye said.

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