Police in Bundibugyo on Sunday blocked a meeting of the Bakonzo community, further heightening ethnic tensions between the Bamba and Bakonzo in the district.
Police in Bundibugyo on Sunday blocked a meeting of the Bakonzo community, further heightening ethnic tensions in the district.
Last week, several announcements were aired on Bundibugyo FM and Bundibugyo Development Radio urging the Bakonzo community in the district to attend an urgent meeting.
On Sunday afternoon, more than 300 Bakonzo in the district and some from Kasese district arrived at Bundibugyo town hall, the venue of the meeting, but they were surprised to find the venue sealed off by armed police. More than ten armed police officers were deployed at the venue.
Attempts by Steven Baluku, the chairperson of Bakonzo community in Bundibugyo district to ask police to open the venue, fell on deaf ears. The police in turn demanded for written permission from Baluku authorizing him to hold the meeting. Baluku and his group left the venue insulting the police.
In a telephone interview, the Bundibugyo District Police Commander Denis Namuhoza alleges that the meeting was blocked after police received intelligence information that it was intended to mobilize the Bakonzo living in the district, to protest against the installation of Bamba cultural leader, the Omhudingiya.
Major Martin Kamya, a serving UPDF officer, is set to be installed as the cultural leader of the Bamba, although no date has been fixed for the ceremony. The function has twice been postponed this year for unclear reasons.
Namuhoza also told Uganda Radio Network that the Bakonzo didn’t seek permission from the police to hold the meeting.
But Baluku denied the allegations, saying that the police are conniving with the Bamba community to frustrate the activities of the Bakonzo. Baluku says the meeting was aimed at discussing the financial report of their association and plan for other activities.
Benjamin Suza, the acting chairperson of Bundibugyo Elders Development Association (BEDA), claims that since the Bamba announced the installation of their cultural leader, there has been unease among the Bakonzo who have plans of frustrating the ceremony. He also says that the meeting was suspicious and questions the involvement of the Bakonzo from Kasese district.
Bundibugyo district has a section of the Bakonzo who are from Bughendera County, while the Bamba, who are the majority, are from Bwamba County.
Last year, clashes broke out in Bundibugyo district between the Bamba and Bakonzo ethnic groups.
The clashes started when the Bamba tried to burn down a shrine that was constructed for the Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere. The shrine is located in Kibindi village in Busaru Sub County.
The Bamba were also angry that Mumbere visited Bundibugyo to celebrate his second coronation anniversary without seeking permission from their leaders.