14 December 2012

Uganda: Govt Asks Mengo to Set Agenda for Talks

THE central government is ready to have talks with Buganda concerning the kingdom's demands, the Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi has said.

Ssekandi made the remarks at the 5th Buganda Conference at Hotel Africana in Kampala whose theme was Prospects and challenges of resolving the Buganda question after 50 years of Uganda's independence.

"The central government is ready. I am waiting for Mengo to come up with the agenda and we start," Ssekandi said.

"I have no fear of talking about Buganda's demands and I don't do it for votes because I get my votes in other ways. I am not treacherous. I never speak lies," Ssekandi said.

He said he understands very well the Buganda question and would therefore use his experience to conduct successful talks with the Buganda kingdom on behalf of the central government.

Buganda caucus chairperson, Godfrey Kiwanda, however raised concern that there was confusion on who has to take the first step for the talks to take place.

"As Buganda caucus MPs we resolved that the talks should be immediately resumed but Mengo told us the central government had not yet called them. Whenever we meet President Museveni he tells us that restoring Buganda's federal status was not part of their agenda in the Luwero war," Kiwanda said.

MPs Betty Nambooze and Ibrahim Ssemuju argued that it is clear that the central government is not committed to the talks. They suggested that Buganda opts for self-rule.

"We should stop being shy about our self-rule. Buganda is bigger than Rwanda and Burundi," Ssemuju argued.

The conference was also attended by a cross section of leaders from the region who included three former Buganda Katikiro, Mayanja Nkangi, Joseph Mulwannyamuli Ssemogerere, Dan Muliika, as well as the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, finance minister Maria Kiwanuka, trade minister Amelia Kyambadde and Members of Parliament.

Opening the conference, the Nabagereka Silvia Naginda advised the participants to articulate ideas which would promote Buganda as an integral part of Uganda.

"The challenges of Buganda are not different from the challenges of other kingdoms in other African states. They include how to relate with the state and how to share power with the state. Buganda is part of Uganda. We should go for solutions which will foster harmony with our neighbours," Naginda said.

"We should not be prisoners of the past. Let us learn from the mistakes of the past 50 years and pick ourselves up to move forward. It is our duty to find lasting solutions to our challenges," Naginda said.

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