Talks between rival Muslim factions in Luwero district over a disputed piece of land on which one of the factions wants to establish an agricultural market have collapsed after the talks’ mediator, the Luweero LC-V chairman, Erastus Kibirango pulled out.
Wrangles escalated about three weeks ago, the Luweero district Kadhi, Sheikh Ramadhan Mulindwa gave away part of a 20-acre piece of land in Kalongo miti zone in Luweero Town Council, for the establishment of a market.
The disputed land belongs to Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), and is adjacent to the Muslim district headquarters at Kasana in Luweero Town Council.
The development angered a cross-section of Muslims especially those allied to the Kibuli Muslim leadership faction, who, with the backing of former minister, also UMSC vice-chairman, Alhajji Abdul Nadduli, opposed the market citing Islamic teachings and strategic plan.
On Monday, Kibirango was to lead the two factions were scheduled to tour the market to make a final decision on whether to allow it or not.
However, when the Kibuli group and Nadduli turned up at Kibirango’s office for the scheduled talks and tour of the land, the district boss informed them that he had excused himself from the matter after receiving a letter warning him to stop meddling in Muslim affairs.
The said letter was written on June 24, by Hajji Twaha Gwaivu, the chairperson of the East Buganda Muslim region, telling him that all matters concerning Muslim property must be handled by the District Kadhi who is the custodian of Muslim affairs in the district.
A dejected Nadduli left shortly afterward and declined to be interviewed while Hajji Musa Kakande, the chairperson of Greater Luwero Muslim district under Kibuli leadership faction expressed shock and disbelief that the mediator had been forced out of the talks yet his efforts were in good faith and aimed at enabling them to reach consensus on the projects.
Kakande explained that following the collapse of the talks, they resolved to back the town council and district security committee resolutions blocking the establishment of the market on the land.
On the other hand, Sheikh Mulindwa expressed happiness that Kibirango had withdrawn from the talks because the matter at the hand can be resolved within the UMSC structures.
Mulindwa said that they have resolved to ask the Chairperson of Luwero Muslim district to convene a general meeting after the COVID-19 lockdown to discuss how the market can operate on the land.
Isa Ssekamwa and Safina Nakalanzi are some of the traders in the disputed market. They appealed to Muslim leaders to leave them to operate on the land since it has been idle for decades.
Luwero Town Clerk, Irene Nakamatte and LC 3 chairperson, Chris Johns Buwembo insist that the market is illegal because those behind it didn’t consult the authorities before establishing it. The town clerk has already directed the traders to vacate the land and relocate to already existing markets.