“There is neither war nor an emergency in the area to warrant continued heavy deployment of such security forces in the area."
The Rwenzururu king, Charles Wesley Mumbere, has told government to withdraw the extra security forces deployed in the Rwenzori sub-region, saying that there is no war to warrant their presence there.
Security was beefed up in the area following several outbreaks of post-election violence in which 30 people have died in Bundibugyo and 11 others in Kasese and scores displaced in separate incidents.
A number of others, including the intelligence chief of Kyabarungira sub-county, have been injured and four others arrested in connection with the violence.
The violence has involved attacks on security targets by people armed with machetes, spears, knives and clubs.
The Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura mid-last month said the attackers were a militia group he described as “Kilhumiramuthima” (the fearless ones).
Capt. Mukula addressing a group of people after he landed near Kasese Secondary School on Saturday. (Credit: John Nzinjah)
Addressing a meeting of religious leaders convened by the Bishop of South Rwenzori Diocese, Rt Rev Jackson Thembo Nzerebende in Kasese town on Friday, the Rwenzori East Regional Commander, SSP Deo Obura, said the attackers act under the influence of witchcraft, which makes them believe they cannot be harmed by bullets.
“We have information that their leaders are telling them to grab guns from security forces and earn sh200,000 per gun,” said Obura.
“There is neither war nor an emergency in the area to warrant continued heavy deployment of such security forces in the area,” said Mumbere.
The cultural leader on Saturday briefed the media after a two-hour closed meeting with the NRM vice chairman in charge of eastern region, Flight Captain Mike Mukula at Mumbere’s palace in Kasese town.
He said that during an earlier closed meeting with Gen. Kayihura at Hotel Margherita mid-last month, the two agreed that the deployments in the area be scaled down.
It was from this background that Mumbere faulted the police chief for maintaining heavy police deployment despite their reported agreement.
“I am surprised to see that the resolution has not been implemented,” he said, adding that peace was needed first before any lasting solution can be achieved.
Mumbere said he was committed to re-uniting with his counterpart, the Bundibugyo-based cultural leader of the Obundingiya bwa Bamba, (cultural leader of Bamba and Babwisi), retired Lt Col Martin Kamya to stabilize the region.
But his position is that peace negotiations cannot take place when security forces are still heavily deployed in the region.
Mukula peace package
On his part, Capt. Mukula said his visit to the sub-region was meant to “de-escalate the problems” haunting the sub-region by using various approaches.
“I am pledging to ask the president to withdraw the heavy deployment of a force called Flying Squad in different places in the region so that we can use dialogue to settle the problem,” he said.
Rwenzururu kingdom minister Dr. John Baluku wishes Capt Mukula a safe flight back to Kampala after his meeting with the Rwenzururu king. (Credit: John Nzinjah)
The NRM leader, who flew to the area on Saturday, said the peace mission strategy also includes bringing the two cultural leaders together at a meeting to be held in any part of the country.
“The meeting will be for the two cultural leaders to agree on a minimum and effective programme to bring the people together in their area of jurisdiction,” Mukula said at the press briefing.
The next step, Mukula said, will be to bring other stakeholders on board “with a view to starting dialogue as the only way to bring peace in the Rwenzori axis”.
We are also thinking of a permanent working committee to ensure the internal issues are brought to the attention of the two cultural leaders, he added.
According to Mukula, the social-economic issues of the region need to be brought out in order to transform the Rwenzori region into a highly dynamic and progressive region including upgrading of the Kasese airstrip to international standards and a referral hospital to deal with various medical ailments.
Mukula further said he and the Rwenzururu king had talked of “a university for the region to enhance and build capacity of the sub-region”.
“We think the cultural institutions need to be involved in the social-economic transformation working together with government.
“I want to assure the people of Uganda that Rwenzori region will be peaceful again,” Mukula said, explaining that the meeting between the two was “the beginning of a long journey toward achieving this.”
He pledged to meet President Museveni and broker a meeting between Mumbere and Museveni to discuss the Rwenzori issues “heart-to-heart.”
Mukula also said he was going to expedite the process to enable displaced residents in Kasese and Bundibugyo to return to their homes and utilise the rainy season to plant food.
A former MP for Soroti Municipality and ex-state minister in the health ministry, Mukula urged the media to report responsibly and work toward “de-escalating the Rwenzori crisis”.
“There has been tendency to demonise the region and market insecurity more than of the positive in the region. That is now a matter we would like to put behind us,” Mukula said.
Mukula heavily participated in the process of returning Mumbere home from the USA in 1998.