Over a year after Kasese district was plunged into a conflict that cost hundreds of lives; widows and orphans call for help as they struggle to make ends meet. The military raid on Rwenzururu king Charles Wesley Mumberes palace on November 26th and 27th 2016 left more than 100 people dead and families robbed of their breadwinners.
Relatives of people killed in last years attacks in Kasese district are yet to come to terms with the loss of their loved ones. More than 100 people mostly royal guards were killed when the Uganda People Defence Forces-UPDF soldiers attacked Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumberes Buhikira palace. Fourteen police officers were also killed in different parts of the district.
At least 52 bodies Rwenzururu royal guards who were killed during the November 2016 attack on Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumberes palace are yet to be claimed, almost a year after they were buried in a military barracks. More than 100 people are believed to have died when the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces- UPDF under the command of the then Second Division Commander, Major General Peter Elwelu, raided Rwenzururu palace in Kasese town.
In November, armed youth groups of Esyomango syObusinga, a youth group associated with Rwenzururu Kingdom terrorised residents in Karangura sub county. They carried out illegal night foot patrols, collected taxes in form of chicken, goats, and money and food items from the residents. The attacks in Kabarole culminated in the raid on the palace of the Rwenzururu King in Kasese district on November 26 and 27 in which more than 100 people died and Mumbere and hundreds of his royal guards arrested.
Yoneki Biira, a resident of Kasese Municipality questioned why the Queen Mother would move on to engage everyone in the matters of the kingdom without the support of the administrative structures of the Kingdom that are known to the subjects.
There is a rift within the Rwenzururu royal family as the Queen Mother Christine Mukirania seeks to lead a breakaway faction opposed to her son, Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere. In an exclusive interview with URN at her home in Kigali cell, Nyakabingo ward in Kasese Municipality, the Queen Mother says there is need for the rest of the royal family to separate from Mumbere because he has drifted away from the original agenda set by his late father Isaya Mukirania.
Rwenzururu Kingdom will not celebrate their Peace Day, an annual event marking 55 years since the Bakonzo and Bamba jointly announced their independence from Tooro Kingdom. Ever since Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere was recognised by the government in 2009, the historic day has been celebrated every June 30th with pomp with thousands of subjects gathering in Bundibugyo for its commemoration. Speaking to URN on phone from Kasese today, Clarence Bwambale, the Rwenzururu spokesperson says that there will be no celebrations to mark the peace day tomorrow because the cultural institution and its subjects are not at peace.
Ivan and Aidaloya Syauswa, a neighbor to the palace says that his perimeter wall, gate and windows were extensively damaged by a barrage of gunshots aimed at the palace. A visit by URN confirms damage to the perimeter wall, fragments of a bombshell and a UPDF head cap that were reportedly left behind after the shelling.
Johnson Kamalha, a businessman in Kasese town says that the people in Kasese should be proud of Mbadis promotion. He explains that it is the first time for a Mukonzo to be among the top brass in the army leadership.
The committee last week visited Kasese district, where it met several stakeholders, including local leaders and Brigadier Peter Elwelu, who commanded the operation. However, committee chairperson, Judith Nabakooba says they are yet to meet with President Museveni, who is reported to have given orders for the offensive.
According to sources who attended a meeting between Katumba, State Minister of Defence, Colonel Charles Okello Engola and MPs on the Defence and Internal Affairs committee, the CDF reportedly said he was in Kampala when the offensive was launched, adding that he only communicated to those on ground on phone.
The Chief of Defense Forces General Edward Katumba Wamala says that retired officers especially those heading to Kasese and neighboring districts need to be vigilant and report any one who seeks to recruit them into subversive activities.
Ofwono Opondo, the Director of Uganda Media Centre, says preliminary intelligence reports link the attacks to ADF rebels. Opondo claimed that some of Mumberes guards were in touch with ADF rebels on the day of the attacks. Opondos statement contradicts that of Internal Affairs Minister, General Jeje Odongo, who on Tuesday downplayed the involvement of ADF.
Winnie Kiiza, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, says the relatives of the deceased Royal Guards have been calling their area leaders, complaining about the delayed release of their bodies to their kinsmen.
He says video footage broadcast by Ugandan TV stations shows the bodies of young men apparently dumped on river banks and in bushes, and men writhing in pain as they are tossed off pickup trucks with their hands tied behind their backs.