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Uganda gov't deploys police in western region as sharp land wrangles intensify
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07:44, July 04, 2007

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The Ugandan government has deployedpolice in the western district of Buliisa in a bid to diffuse increasing land wrangles that are likely to degenerate into bloodshed, a senior official said here on Tuesday.

Kirunda Kivejinja, deputy prime minister and Minister of Information told a news conference that government decided to deploy the police because the tensions between the Balalo (nomads)and the original occupants of the land are like to spark off a sharp land conflict.

"The police is purely intended to prevent clashes," Kivejinja said flanked by the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Matia Kasaija, Minister of State for Lands Kasirivu Atwooki and the co-coordinator of intelligence services Gen. David Tinyefunza.

Over 250 mostly Banyarwanda herdsmen and their families have been grazing their cattle in areas occupied by the indigenous people, Bagungu, with some claiming they bought the land.

The Bagungu, therefore, accused the Balalo of grazing on their land destroying crops, fueling up tensions between the two groups.

Early last month, police had to use gun fire and tear gas to disperse two angry mobs of herdsmen and indigenous Bagugu that left seven people seriously injured including the area member of parliament.

"If we do not manage this issue properly, we can easily end up hitting on each others heads," Kivejinja said.

He said government has resolved to resettle the herdsmen in neighboring Kiboga District. But the move has, however, sparked out new tensions from the Baganda tribe who have also resisted andvowed to take up arms to prevent the relocation of the herdsmen onwhat they called their ancestral land.

Kirunda insisted that the land belongs to government.

Gen. Tinyefunza who is under presidential directive to diffuse any tension said the movement of the herdsmen not only into Buliisa but in other parts of the country continues to be a menace.

"There is a lot of indiscipline..., there must be orderly movement," he said.

Recently, Uganda has faced increasing land wrangles with localsincluding legislators vowing to mobilize their people to take up arms and fight for their land while government was accused of grabbing land in the war-ravaged north.

Source: Xinhua

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