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Anger In Ugandan Over Plans To Name Road After Slain Tourists

Celia and David Barlow, from Berkshire, UK, who were killed in an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces at the Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda on 17 October, 2023

Report from Kampala,  the Uganda capital says a decision by Uganda’s government to name a road after two foreign tourists, killed earlier this month, has triggered outrage in the country.

British citizen David Barlow and his South African wife Emmaretia Geyer were shot dead on their honeymoon.

Police said the attackers also burned their car in the 17 October attack.

Some Ugandans have criticised the government for honouring the foreign couple yet excluding Eric Alyai, the Ugandan guide killed alongside them.

Authorities say the couple, from Berkshire in the UK, was on a visit to see gorillas and other primates at the Queen Elizabeth National Park when they were reportedly killed in an attack by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).

ADF is a State-linked rebel group with a presence in western Uganda, but which mostly operates in the eastern part of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“As cabinet, we took a decision that for these tourists, we are going to name one of the roads in Uganda after them,” Uganda’s minister for ICT and national guidance Chris Baryomunsi was quoted as saying by Uganda news website The Nile Post.

He did not reveal the name of the road.

As for Alyai, the guide, he only said the government would support his family.

His family told the Ugandan television channel UBC that he had left behind a widow and one-year-old child.

But some Ugandans have said the government should also name a road after Alyai.

“Eric (Alyai) too was part of this death and so he must be remembered for he died on duty. It would only be fair enough,” one Ugandan said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Our inferiority complex is high. No wonder the park where the couple met their death is named after a British Queen,” another X user said.

The government has also faced criticism for planning a memorial for the foreigners but failing to take any action to honour the many Ugandans killed by the ADF in previous attacks.

In June, ADF fighters raided a Ugandan school in a surprise attack, killing 41 children.

This is not the first time that Ugandan authorities have faced outrage over their handling of the deaths of the couple and their guide.

Last Saturday, the Uganda Wildlife Authority was criticsied after it posted a photo promoting the Queen Elizabeth National Park, just days after the deaths of the couple and their guide.

“It was an exciting morning today in Queen Elizabeth National Park as tourists enjoyed a game viewing,” the authority captioned the photo.

Some Ugandans said that promoting the park so soon after the attack was insensitive and lacked compassion.

“The callousness and lack of humanity displayed by those responsible for orchestrating this insensitive campaign is a shame for our country,” said Ugandan human rights activist Daniel Kawuma.

“It is deeply troubling how you use the scene of such a gruesome killing and post messages of an ‘exciting morning’ for tourists. It is incomprehensible how you could mock the victims and their grieving families by circulating happy photos of Queen Elizabeth before the bodies have even been laid to rest,” he added. — BBC

Source: BBC BBC/SG.

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