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Ugandan Parliamentarian Accuses Government of Selling Part of Lake Victoria

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Douglas Mpuga

Uganda’s parliament is investigating reports that part of Lake Victoria has been sold to an investor. The legislature is asking the government to explain the reported sale as residents near the lake complain that they are being restricted, and their area heavily guarded by marine police.

Uganda’s deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali told parliament Thursday that he will give a detailed statement on the matter next week.

“A very big chunk within Lake Victoria surrounding Bulago Island cannot be navigated by the people,” said Dr. Lulume Bayiga, Member of Parliament for Buikwe South. “It is only marine police and the army that can navigate there.”

He said the area in question is about 15 by 20 nautical miles and the army prevents people from traversing the area.

“They confiscate engines and boats. Should you pass there with any fish products in your boat, you are beaten. Two people have already been killed,” explained Bayiga.

The lawmaker said over six hundred people will be deprived of their livelihoods as they will not be able to derive income from fishing.

Bayiga identified the investor as one Cooper, a ‘white man,’ but said he didn’t know where he came from.

“He has connection with the [Uganda] army particularly Gen. Salim Saleh (president Yoweri Museveni’s younger brother).”

He said after the relevant minister makes a statement next week, a parliamentary committee will commence investigations on the matter.

The legislator said there are other areas on Lake Victoria (his constituency) where another investor from South Africa evicted people from their land and does not allow then to navigate the area near his land. He said there is no doubt that these investors must have paid someone to acquire these areas, and “we need an investigation to find out the facts.”

Last year, Ugandan police threatened to file charges against the country’s top opposition figure for accusing President Yoweri Museveni of selling a lake to foreign investors.

Kizza Besigye, leader of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, alleged that Museveni secretly sold Lake Kyoga in central Uganda to a South African company.

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