Tooro also vows to fight on the side of the residents who are being threatened with eviction by the Office of the Prime Minister. The government wants the resident out of the land to create space for Congolese refugees fleeing post-election violence.

“Tooro Kingdom gave part of its land in 1964 to the King of Rwanda but not Uganda government,” asserted Mr Steven Nyabongo, one of the Regents for the king of Tooro, adding, “We did let go the land at Kyaka I, Kyaka II, Kahunge and Ibuga and we have never asked for it, but we shall demand for Rwamwanja until the last grandson of Tooro.” Mr Nyabongo was on Thursday giving his testimony before the parliamentary committee on Presidential Affairs at Rwamwanja.

The committee first met local leaders before it opened to the public for hearings and later toured one of the seven villages in the settlement.

Tooro Kingdom Information Minister Arther Namara said: “We do not want our people to be displaced because of refugees. The land was gazetted in error.”

“A kingdom delegation which was led by the former Prime Minister, Mr Steven Irumba, in 2007 met President Museveni in Rwakitura and made it clear to him,” Mr Namara added.

This comes after area MPs, Mr Frank Tumwebaze (Kibale) and Kamwenge Woman MP Dorothy Nsheija petitioned the committee over threats to evict more than 30,000 families settled on the land by government.

The government argues that the estimated 40-square-miles of Rwamwanja refugee settlement camp in Nkoma Sub-county, Kibale County belongs to it. However the locals disagree with some showing evidence of land titles.

The land was previously occupied by refugees fleeing the 1960 conflict in Rwanda but the majority returned to Rwanda in 1995. The land dispute has so far left one person dead and several others injured. As a result, police from Kampala have joined their counterparts in Rwamwanja to curtail a looming violence.

The Office of the Prime Minister this week gave the residents 21 days to vacate the land in contention so that it settles refugees from DR Congo who are currently camped in Kisoro District after they fled clashes between government forces and militias after the December 2011 polls. But this order has been put on halt by the parliamentary committee pending investigations.

“Bwana DPC (Kamwenge), note this, no bringing of refugees until we settle this issue, there is a caveat on this matter, that is what we told the Minister (Stephen Mallinga),” said the parliamentary committee chairman, Mr Barnabas Tibarimbasa.

According to the Kamwenge District Chairman, Mr Robert Kamasaka, there are 1,760 households settled at Rwamwanja with a total population of 30,000.

By Felix Basiime, Daily Monitor


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