No Museveni, Kabaka talks on federo - Lukiiko

News May 23, 2007

ROBERT MWANJE & AL- MAHDI SSENKABIRWA
MENGO

THE President cannot have direct talks with the Kabaka over federo, the Buganda Lukiiko has said. President Museveni recently demanded direct talks with Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi over Buganda's long quest for a federal system of governance.

During last week's sitting, members of the Lukiiko resolved to support the negotiations only when the Kabaka is not directly involved as demanded by the President.Nsuma clan head and Lukiiko member David Kibondwe said it was unacceptable to directly 'drag our King (Kabaka) into these political talks'.

"The Kabaka cannot be fronted when the katikkiro (premier) and his subjects are there. He should appoint a team headed by the katikkiro to represent him," Mr Kibondwe said amidst applause.

Kabaka apoliticalKooki county representative Anania Ssekyanzi supported Mr Kibondwe's proposal, insisting that federo negotiations were too political for the Kabaka who constitutionally and culturally is not supposed to get involved in politics.

"We should not ignore the federo negotiations but it's risky to front the Kabaka. He has representatives, let them negotiate on his behalf," Mr Ssekyanzi said. The Lukiiko is the kingdom's top decision making body.

The kingdom interim katikkiro Emmanuel Ssendaula said they were ready to negotiate with the government in close consultation with the Kabaka. President Museveni said direct negotiations with the Kabaka would yield fruit unlike the previous talks central government held with a team from Mengo led by then Katikkiro Joseph Mulwanyamuli Semwogerere.

Mr Semwogerere was succeeded by Dan Muliika who was relieved of his duties early this year. Mr Muliika continued the negotiations with the government but he was viewed as a hardliner and uncompromising. The negotiations have since been postponed.

Recently, Information and National Guidance Minister Kirunda Kivejinja confirmed the negotiations would continue but was noncommittal on when they would resume."There is no barrier for fresh negotiations between the two parties. But we have not yet fixed the date," he said.

The negotiations hit a dead-end in mid 2005 after both parties failed to agree on a number of issues. The government reportedly offered the Mengo team a regional tier system of governance instead of federo.

The Lukiiko unanimously rejected the regional tier months after Parliament had passed the proposal. Under the regional tier, the Katikkiro is elected under adult suffrage contrary to Mengo's tradition of the Kabaka naming his katikkiro.

After assuming office in February, Mr Ssendaula said the kingdom would get federo through non confrontational means and would never rest until it is achieved. He said Mengo would lobby MPs and State House.

Speaking on one FM station late last year, the President said he was not happy about Mengo's decision to reject the regional tier.
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