A rift has emerged in the leadership of Bunyoro Kitara Reparations Association (BUKITAREPA), a group seeking legal redress for colonial atrocities against the kingdom. In 2004 four Banyoro representatives from Kibaale district sued the Ugandan government, the Kabaka of Buganda and Queen of United Kingdom over the colonial atrocities against Bunyoro. The litigants among others sought to revoke the 1900 agreement that gave away Bunyoro's land to Buganda and reparation of 500 billion Pounds from the British government.
It all stems from the sacking of the Association's 13 member Board of Directors by the Coordinator Dovicko Batwale on September 12.
Batwale told Uganda Radio Network on Sunday that the dissolution of the board was meant to achieve regional balance by incorporating representatives from the entire Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom.
Batwale explained that the old board had only members from Nalweyo Sub County in Kibaale district, which he says is an injustice. He said since the colonial atrocities were committed in the entire Bunyoro Kingdom, there was need to strike a balance by having representatives from each of the Bunyoro districts of Buliisa, Hoima, Masindi, Kibaale and Kiryandongo.
Batwale says as the Association coordinator the constitution empowers him to appoint the board adding that this is what exactly he did. He says he has already submitted names of the 15 new board members to the registrar of companies, as per his September 15 letter to the Registrar.
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Although Batwale maintains that the termination of the old board was for the good of the association, the move has not gone well with some BUKITAREPA leaders like Livingstone Bakumira who was in charge of mobilization on the old board. Despite bouncing back on the new board, Bakumira has rejected the appointment, saying Batwale had no authority to dissolve the board without the consent of the members.
In a telephone interview, Bakumira said the old Board was elected 12 years ago by the association members themselves. He vowed not to take up Batwale's appointment to new board, saying this was a personal move. Bakumira meanwhile maintained he would remain an ordinary BUKITAREPA member for the good of the court case they are pursuing against the Queen and British government.
The group argues that during the colonial wars against Omukama Cwa Kabalega, about 2.5million Banyoro were killed and their land was given away to Baganda collaborators. BUKITAREPA members say that these injustices are to blame for the region's current underdevelopment.
In 2004 four Banyoro representatives from Kibaale district logged a case in the High Court of Uganda. They sued the Ugandan government, the Kabaka of Buganda and Queen of United Kingdom over the colonial atrocities against Bunyoro. The litigants included Doviko Batwale and Henry Ford Mirima, the press secretary to Omukama of Bunyoro.
The litigants among others sought to revoke the 1900 agreement that gave away Bunyoro's land to Buganda and reparation of 500 billion Pounds from the British government.
Although part of the case challenging the 1900 Buganda agreement is currently before the Ugandan High Court, the litigants were advised to sue the Queen in the London Court since the Ugandan court did not have jurisdiction. The litigants have since embarked on a fundraising campaign to raise the money needed to fund the case in the London court.
According to Batwale this necessitated need to bring the Bunyoro on Board and thus the rise of BUKITAREPA last year. The association printed membership certificates for Banyoro to buy and become part of this struggle. The certificates are sold between 20, 000 and 100,000 shillings. The association intends to raise one billion shillings to fund the court case in Britain.