Uganda says could eject Oxfam over land grab claims

Wed May 9, 2012 3:31pm GMT
 

By Jocelyn Edwards

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda has threatened to kick out Oxfam after the British charity accused the government of complicity in violent land grabs for commercial gains, according to the interior ministry.

The ministry has told Oxfam and the Uganda Land Alliance, they will lose their operating licenses if they do not retract and apologise for accusations that more than 20,000 people were evicted to make way for an international forestry company.

"(This) has ... generated unnecessary malicious attacks against the person of the president and brings the presidency into disrepute in a manner that is inconsistent with national laws," the ministry's National NGO Board said in an undated report on an investigation into the organizations.

A retraction of the accusations, made in a September report, and apologies to the president and the ministry are preconditions for the two charities to keep their licences and the work permits of their staff, the board said.

Veteran President Yoweri Museveni's government says the people evicted had encroached on national forest reserves.

Oxfam confirmed receiving the ministry's report and its Uganda country director, Ayman Omer, said the charity would respond within an agreed time frame.

Deo Tumusiime, a spokesman for the Uganda Land Alliance, said it and Oxfam had been summoned by interior minister Hilary Onek on April 26 but that there were no grounds for an apology.

"We do not really see any need to apologise because there are issues on the ground that we think need urgent attention," Tumusiime told Reuters on Wednesday. "People have lived on this land for quite some time and have now been chased away."   Continued...

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni speaks at the presentation of the Government Budget for the year 2011/2012 at the Serena conference center in the capital Kampala, June 8, 2011. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu
 
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