Fifty-four Rwenzururu Royal Guards have surrendered in Kabarole district.
The guards have reportedly been operating in Katebwa, Rubona and Karangura, sub counties, whose population is predominately Bakonzo. In November last year, at least seven people were killed when the Ugandan army --UPDF -- raided what they called rebel training camps in Karangura in the Rwenzori Mountains. According to the UPDF, the camps were operated by youth groups loyal to Rwenzururu Kingdom.
The decision of the guards to surrender follows amnesty announced by government last year calling upon all those who participated in clashes with government forces in Kasese, Kabarole and Bundibugyo districts to surrender.
The Rwenzori clashes culminated into the Rwenzururu palace attack by the army on November 27. The guards have been surrendering to security officials at Kyamukube Sub County Headquarters since Monday. However, none of them showed up with any weapon.
Muneyi Yeremiya, a clan leader from Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu who is in-charge of receiving the royal guards, says that 54 have so far surrendered, adding that they expect more to come out of hiding.
Yeremiya says that each guard who surrenders is screened and profiled before they are asked to record their statements with the police.
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Yeremiya Mutooro, the acting Rwenzururu Prime Minister says that Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere wants all the Royal Guards still in hiding to come out and be granted amnesty.
Mutooro explains that the move is aimed at restoring peace in the Kingdom following the UPDF-led offensive in which more than 100 people died. Mumbere together 149 of his guards were arrested and charged with several counts of murder, attempted murder, kidnap, treason and terrorism. Mumbere was released on bail on Monday this week, but the state has restricted his movements to within Kampala and Wakiso areas.
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Some of the guards claimed that they had been misled into joining a militia with promises of getting money and jobs.
Moses Muhindo, one of those who surrendered in Katebwa, says he has been a Royal Guard for two years. Muhindo, who has been in hiding for two months, says that he decided to surrender for fear of being arrested by security forces.
Musa Tibakirana, the Kabarole District Police Commander, says that those who have surrendered are free to return to their homes after recording statements with police. He explains that through the community policing programme, the community will be sensitised not to carry out revenge attacks on the guards who have surrendered.
Tibakairana adds that the royal guards who are still in hiding may not benefit from the amnesty.
In December last year, 167 guards surrendered in Kasese district. This was shortly after the attack on Mumbere's palace and administrative offices.