World Bulletin / News Desk
The Ugandan government on Tuesday returned 203 land titles to the Buganda Kingdom, the country's largest and longest existing kingdom.
"This is a historical moment because, after 47 years, your Excellency [is] correcting a mistake that was done in the 60s," Attorney-General Peter Nyombi told President Yoweri Museveni, who attended a special ceremony to mark the occasion at Entebbe State House, the seat of the presidency.
"This is a big achievement," Nyombi added.
The handover of the land titles comes as a result of directives issued by Museveni and in compliance with a 2013 memorandum of understanding signed between the government and Ronald Mwenda Mutebi, king of Buganda.
A verification team jointly established by the government and the Buganda Kingdom is still carrying out its work, verifying the ownership of the land in question.
In 1962, after Uganda won independence, the British colonial government left behind a federal government, meaning that traditional institutions had powers over land and other properties within their jurisdiction.
However, this was overturned by the country's 1966 constitution, when Uganda was made a republic and all cultural institutions were banned – including traditional kingdoms.
Upon the adoption of the 1995 constitution, however, kingdoms across Uganda were restored, thus providing the Buganda Kingdom with a platform to negotiate for the return of lost land and other properties from the central government.
In August of last year, Buganda asserted that the Ugandan government owed it over $800,000 in arrears.
The Buganda Kingdom represents Uganda's largest ethnic group, who are settled mainly in the central and southern parts of the country.
Apollo Makubuya, Buganda's constitutional affairs minister, explained that what they received on Tuesday were the titles for land in urban areas and some in Kampala.
"This is just a part of a large area of land that needs to be returned," he said. "The central government in 1966 took 9000 square miles of Buganda Kingdom land."
"So we still expect many more titles, so 213 [land deeds] is just a small portion of what is outstanding," he added.
Makubuya said that President Museveni had symbolically shown that his government was prepared to return the kingdom's lost assets.
"It's only the beginning," he said of Tuesday's raft of land title transfers.
Makubuya went on to say that, apart from the land titles that had been returned, some financial compensation was also expected.
"We still have a long way to go," he said.Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2014, 11:51