Bugangaizi MP Accused of Blocking Bakiga Migrants' Compensation

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A group of Bakiga who were forcefully evicted from Mpokya Game and Forestry Reserve 19 years ago accuse the incumbent Bugangaizi County MP of blocking their compensation by government.

The conflict dates back to the late 1960s when hundreds of Bakiga were relocated from overpopulated districts in the Kigezi region to Bunyoro. Several thousand families settled in Mpokya forest reserve in Kamwenge and in 1992 they were forcefully evicted and resettled in Kibaale district.

In 1999 the High Court in Kampala ruled the eviction illegal and ordered government to pay the migrants 13 billion shillings. Every year that the money was not paid, it accrued an interest of six percent.

Two years ago, President Yoweri Museveni halted the payment. He said the process needed to be streamlined to ensure that only those deserving of the money received it.

Now, members of the Kibaale District Mpokya Evictees Compensation Beneficiaries Association, accuse the Bugangaizi MP Mabel Bakeine of interfering with the payment. They say she fed the President false information that caused the delayed delivery of the money.

Bakeine heads another group of about 3000 Mpokya evictees, who were allegedly not part of the 1999 court process.

At a meeting in Kibaale on Wednesday, Benon Turyamureeba Ruranga, the attorney for the Mpokya evictees association, claimed that Bakeine told Museveni a lie about the interference of opposition politicians in the compensation process. He said Bakeine had no evidence to back her charge, which caused hundreds to lose out on much needed funding.

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During a recent campaign stop in Kibaale, President Museveni said he had halted the compensation because it was being handled by Rubaramira Ruranga of the Forum for Democratic Change.

Turyamureba said this was lie,

Mabel Bakeine could not be reached for a comment because she was unavailable and did not pick up phone calls.