Uganda: Govt Keeps Off Muslims Wrangles

Kampala, Uganda - The Government will not interfere in the current Muslim wrangles, the ethics and integrity minister, Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, said yesterday.

"I know there is a fierce debate among the warring Muslim factions but as government, we still consider them as internal matters."

The minister was yesterday addressing journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala.

"In our view, it is an internal matter which does not threaten our national security. I urge them to remember that Uganda will be served best when we are united.

"Where there are differences, there are clearly established institutions which can handle that. As long as what is done follows the established laws, the government cannot interfere," Buturo said.

The current stand-off in the Muslim community was sparked off in 2006 following the sale of Muslim properties in Kampala.

The group opposed to Mufti Ramathan Mubajje sued him over the sale but lost in court.

They decided to elect a rival Mufti, Sheik Zubair Kayongo, at Kibuli on Wednesday.

In 2006, Sheik Abdullah Hakim Ssekimpi, a leader of the one of the factions of the radical Tabliq sect, accused Mubajje of fraudulently selling land on William Street and on Port Bell Road in Luzira.

The conflict ended up in the court, with Mubajje, city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba and Uganda Muslim Supreme Council secretary general Edris Kasenene facing criminal charges.

The trio was acquitted by court. But the anti-Mubajje faction rejected the court ruling.

The new Mufti will be sworn in today at Kibuli mosque after the Juma prayers

Mubajje, through the advice of other religious leaders and Muslim MPs, has accepted to reconcile with the warring faction.

Hajj Kaddunabbi Lubega (Butambala) and Hajj Hussein Kyanjo (Makindye West), after meeting Mubajje on Wednesday, said they were concerned that the election of a second Mufti would lead to in-fighting among Muslims and deter development.

Kaddunabbi urged the Government to mediate the reconciliation process, saying the divisions could lead to national insecurity.