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From: Ssemakula <james_ssemak...@yahoo.com>
To: buganda...@listserv.tamu.edu
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 8:59 PM

Reference ID
09KAMPALA946  2009-08-19 13:52  2011-08-30 01:44  CONFIDENTIAL  Embassy Kampala 
 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 KAMPALA 000946 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/19/2019 
Classified By: Pol/Econ Chief Aaron Sampson, Embassy Kampala, for 
reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). ¶1. (C) Summary.  An internal July 15 memo from 
President Museveni has deepened the ethnic divide between 
groups living atop newfound oil reserves in Uganda's Western 
Region.  The memo, which was leaked to the press on August 2, 
instructs the Minister for Presidential Affairs to consider 
restricting key elected offices - including parliamentary 
seats - in what was once the Bunyoro Kingdom in Western 
Uganda to ethnic Banyoro only.  The memo also recommends 
preferential land ownership rights for ethnic Banyoro for the 
next twenty years. 
 Museveni's memo may have been designed to 
appease, or perhaps distract, Banyoro leaders angered by 
long-standing land disputes and the government's continued 
refusal to reveal plans for oil revenue sharing (reftel). 
Banyoro leaders have hailed the President's proposal as a 
major step toward protecting the Banyoro identity and 
redressing century old claims against the British colonial 
government. The national press, civil society groups, and 
parliamentarians from a broad range of political 
perspectives, meanwhile, have condemned the idea as a step 
toward "tribalism."  Museveni subsequently tried to soothe 
tensions heightened by his memo by meeting separately with 
Banyoro and non-Banyoro community representatives in Kampala. 
Police also hauled the newspaper editor responsible for 
reprinting the memo in for questioning.  Museveni has not 
backed away from the idea of investing specific ethnic groups 
with special electoral privileges in
 Western Uganda, and 
several members of his Cabinet who hail from Bunyoro have 
ratcheted up pressure on Museveni to move forward with his 
proposal.  Museveni's apparent willingness to consider 
rewarding one ethnic constituency by disenfranchising many 
others reinforces concerns about his re-election strategy for 
2011 and Uganda's commitment to the transparent management of 
impending oil revenues.  End Summary. 
Museveni's "Ring-Fence" Memo 
---------------------------- ¶2.  (U)  During the weekend of August 1-2, local 
printed a memo from President Museveni to his Cabinet 
Minister in Charge of Presidential Affairs, Beatrice 
Wabudeya, entitled "Guidance on the Banyoro/Bafuruki 
Question."  Banyoro are "indigenous" residents of the Bunyoro 
Kingdom, which comprises four districts along the shores of 
Lake Albert in Western Uganda.  Bafuruki is a term used to 
describe non-Banyoro Ugandan "immigrants" who
 migrated to 
Bunyoro during the 1980s.  Minister Wabudeya belongs to a 
Cabinet level sub-committee previously established to examine 
Banyoro/Bafuruki tensions.  In his memo Museveni faults 
so-called Bafuruki for infringing on Banyoro culture and 
political space.  Invoking Article 32 of Uganda's 1995 
constitution, which authorizes the state to take "affirmative 
action" in favor of groups marginalized by "gender, age, 
disability, or any other reason," the President instructs 
Minister Wabudeya to consider restricting - or in the 
President's words "ring-fencing" - elected offices in Bunyoro 
to ethnic Banyoro candidates only.  This would prevent 
non-Banyoros from contesting Parliament seats and key local 
level posts. ¶3.  (SBU)  The memo also recommends giving land ownership 
rights to ethnic Banyoro resident in Bunyoro since 1964, 
thereby resolving land disputes stemming from the colonial 
era when the British attributed swaths of Bunyoro to 
absent Buganda landowners from central Uganda. Museveni 
recommends preventing Bafuruki from obtaining any additional 
land titles and appropriate compensation for absent Buganda 
landholders for a period of 20 years.  Newly titled ethnic 
Banyoro landholders would have the power to lease their newly 
acquired property, presumably to oil exploration firms for 
Ring-Fence as Political Third Rail 
---------------------------------- ¶4.  (U) A number of Parliamentarians, 
including some from 
Museveni's own National Resistance Movement (NRM), 
immediately condemned the ring-fence proposal as a recipe for 
ethnic division or worse.  Several outspoken NRM 
Parliamentarians from Western Uganda and elsewhere described 
the idea as an unconstitutional non-starter and joined 
opposition calls for a presidential retraction. 
Parliamentarian Erias Lukwago, also Attorney General of the 
opposition Democracy
 Party (DP), described ring-fencing of 
KAMPALA 00000946  002.2 OF 003 
specific elective offices as treasonous.  Forum for 
Democratic Change (FDC) Treasury General Jack Sabiiti warned 
that ring-fencing would exacerbate ethnic tensions.  "If 
President Museveni does not withdraw his statements on 
Bunyoro politics and land," Sabiiti told one local newspaper 
on August 3, "he will be held responsible for any tribal 
clash or chaos that may erupt in this area."  Sabiiti also 
highlighted the artificial nature of precise ethnic 
categorization by noting that intermarriage and other factors 
often make it impossible to discern just who belongs to which 
ethnic group.  Other commentators seized on the precedent of 
ring-fencing, warning that the President's proposal smacked 
of ethnically based gerrymandering which, if applied to other 
parts the country, would heighten ethnic divisions by 
creating a series of "bantustans". 

Political Pandering? 
-------------------- ¶5.  (U)  FDC Secretary General Alice Alaso interpreted 
President Museveni's suggestion as a political ploy to enlist 
Banyoro support in advance of the 2011 presidential 
elections.  She noted that while the FDC's president and 
presidential candidate Kizza Besigye still lost Bunyoro to 
Museveni during the 2006 elections, the gap between Besigye 
and Museveni was much narrower than during the 2001 
presidential contest, even though Museveni still won 
approximately 81 percent of the vote in Bunyoro.  Besigye has 
reportedly been working to increase his profile in Bunyoro. 
Alaso argued that the ring-fence memo was part of a broader 
NRM strategy to shore up support in the four districts that 
comprise the Bunyoro Kingdom.  A number of Bunyoro Kingdom 
officials have subsequently come out in favor of the 
President's "ring-fencing" idea, both as a means of 
protecting the supposedly "marginalized" Banyoro's
and culture and as a revolutionary way to compensate the 
Banyoro for colonial injustices perpetrated during the late 
19th century. 
Damage Control, Sort Of 
----------------------- ¶6.  (U)  President Museveni and some senior Cabinet 
met with selected non-Banyoro leaders in Entebbe during the 
weekend of August 8-9 to ease concerns among Bunyoro's 
"Bafuruki" or "immigrant" community.  Museveni reportedly 
urged an amicable solution to the Banyoro-Bafuruki conflict 
and said the NRM was committed to promoting peace and unity 
in Bunyoro.  On August 10, Information and National Guidance 
Minister Kabakumba Matsiko said Uganda was working on a way 
for Banyoro and non-Banyoro to peacefully co-exist in Western 
Uganda.  Minister of Internal Affairs Matia Kasaija, however, 
reportedly delivered a slightly different message to Banyoro 
leaders in Kampala.  According to one local newspaper 
account, Kasaija,
 who is from Bunyoro, praised Museveni's 
ring-fencing and land ownership proposals. ¶7.  (U)  At an August 15 "Bunyoro 
Symposium" in Kampala with 
Banyoro leaders, Minister Kasaija reiterated his support for 
"ring-fencing," claimed he had received death threats by text 
message, and complained that other unnamed members of 
Museveni's Cabinet were treating him and Information Minister 
Kabakumba Matsiko like "sectarians".  According to local 
media reports, Kasaija told the symposium that Banyoro and 
other groups could co-exist in Western Uganda provided others 
"respect the culture and politics of indigenous people."  "I 
want to assure you," one newspaper quoted Kasaija as saying, 
"that the government is behind us on our new struggle. 
That's why the President wrote this letter.  We are not 
anti-people. All we want is fairness and respect." ¶8.  (U) Two other 
individuals of note reportedly also spoke 
at the August 15 Bunyoro Symposium: the
 Bunyoro Kingdom's 
spokesman Henry Ford Miriima and Presidential Advisor on Land 
Issues Kasirivu Atwooki.  In recent days Miriima has 
advocated for taking President Museveni's "ring-fencing" idea 
even further, arguing that non-Banyoro living in Bunyoro 
should assimilate into Banyoro culture and adopt the Banyoro 
language of Runyoro. 
Newspaper Editor Questioned and Charged 
--------------------------------------- ¶9.  (U) Local authorities summoned 
Daily Monitor Managing 
Editor Daniel Kalinaki for questioning on August 7 following 
the Daily Monitor's August 2 publication of the ring-fence 
memo.  Kalinaki was out of the country at the time the 
KAMPALA 00000946  003 OF 003 
summons was issued and reported to the Jinja Road police 
station on the morning of August 12.  According to the Daily 
Monitor, police questioned Kalinaki for six hours on August 
12 before charging him with forgery and
 uttering a false 
document.  Kalinaki was released on bail of 10 million 
Shillings (approximately USD 5,000) and instructed to 
reappear on August 18. Each of the two charges carry 
potential three year prison terms.  Kalinaki, his lawyer, and 
the Daily Monitor maintain that the text of the letter 
reproduced by the newspaper on August 2 was accurate. 
Kalinaki has already appeared before police once this year 
following a story critical of Uganda's operation against the 
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  In an apparently unrelated 
matter, a second Daily Monitor journalist was arrested and 
charged with criminal defamation earlier this week in 
northern Uganda. 
Police on Alert in Bunyoro 
-------------------------- ¶10.  (U)  On August 11 in Hoima district in 
Bunyoro, unknown 
assailants reportedly burned the workshop of a non-Banyoro 
trader, leading the local police commander to deploy forces 
to prevent further unrest.
  The police commander told news 
outlets that the trader had been targeted because he was a 
Bafuruki or non-Banyoro immigrant.  The August 12 edition of 
the Daily Monitor reported that the attack followed a 
decision by the Bunyoro Kingdom to encourage non-Banyoro to 
register with authorities and assimilate into Banyoro 
culture.  Local police attributed increased tensions in 
Bunyoro to a Bunyoro Kingdom initiative to map out land and 
property allegedly belonging to Banyoro.  Newspapers have 
also reported plans by the Buganda Kingdom to proceed with an 
effort to register and provide ID cards to all ethnic 
Baganda. The Buganda Kingdom's Information Minister, Medard 
Lubega, told the Daily Monitor that the Kingdom wanted "to be 
sure about the origin of our people" for planning purposes. 
It is unlikely, however, that the Baganda have enough funds 
to actually implement this initiative. 
Comment: Museveni
 Playing with Fire 
----------------------------------- ¶11.  (C) Tensions between the Banyoro and 
populations in Bunyoro have been simmering for some time. 
President Museveni's memo significantly heightened these 
tensions by elevating them to national prominence. 
Explanations of why Museveni seized on the Bunyoro question 
now, after more than two decades in power, focus on two 
topics: elections and oil.  Using Uganda's 2002 census as a 
guide, one local news magazine noted that the Banyoro are in 
fact not marginalized and that ethnic Banyoro hold 10 of the 
14 parliamentary seats from the four districts that make up 
the Bunyoro Kingdom.  Although Banyoro appear to be the 
largest ethnic group in these districts, they do not hold a 
majority.  Restricting elected offices to only ethnic Banyoro 
would therefore disenfranchise a majority of the population 
resident in these districts. ¶12.  (C) Many interpret the "ring-fencing" memo
 leak as a 
deliberate attempt to reassure Banyoro leaders over the 
eventual distribution of oil revenues.  During an August 13 
meeting with the Embassy, Uganda's Parliamentary opposition 
leader Ogenga Latigo described the memo as Museveni's version 
of a trial balloon.  "The letter was like throwing a stone 
into the bush to see what comes out," said Latigo.  Latigo 
speculated that the subsequent response - overwhelming 
support from the Banyoro and resounding negativity from 
nearly everyone else - caught Museveni unaware.  President 
Museveni's apparent willingness to fan ethnic tensions as a 
means of achieving political ends raises serious concerns 
about his re-election strategy for 2011 and Uganda's 
commitment to the transparent management of impending oil 
revenues.  The only upside to this "ring-fencing" episode was 
the swift condemnation of the proposal by an eclectic range 
of actors from across Uganda. 

James Ssemakula
DE RUEHKM #0946/01 2311352
R 191352Z AUG 09
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