3 May 2008

Uganda: Cabinet Wants Aerial Video of Mabira

Kampala — CABINET wants an aerial video recording of Mabira Forest. The water and environment ministry has ordered the National Forestry Authority to produce the recording.

The ministry said the video would "be used to educate MPs and the general public on the actual facts about the status of Mabira".

Two years ago, President Yoweri Museveni sparked off debate when he ordered a study with the view of degazetting part of the forest to pave way for sugar cane cultivation by the Sugar Corporation of Uganda Limited (SCOUL).

An interministerial committee in 2006 recommended that SCOUL look for land elsewhere, but early last year, Apolo Nsibambi, the Prime Minister, issued a directive to the ministry to prepare a Cabinet paper for degazettement of Mabira.

This caused debate, which culminated in clashes in which an Asian and two Ugandans were killed.

Museveni appointed another committee headed by the tourism minister, Janat Mukwaya, but its findings have never been made public.

Meanwhile, Edward Anyoli reports that court last week heard that Kitgum Woman Member of Parliament Beatrice Anywar defied Police orders when she led the demonstration against the give-away of the forest. Anywar, Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo, politician Mukasa Mbidde and 27 others are charged with taking part in a riotous assembly.

The first prosecution witness, the Kampala Extra Police chief, Edward Ochom, said the Police chief had directed the demonstrators to march through Nasser Road and assemble on Entebbe Road, where they would hold a rally.

Anywar, however, refused to heed the instructions, Ochom said.

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