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Rwenzori leaders: Why we had conflicts after elections

By Umaru Kashaka

Added 1st October 2016 07:22 AM

Prominent of issues they said could have resulted into the conflicts was the lack of professionalism among community based media houses in Rwenzori.

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Prominent of issues they said could have resulted into the conflicts was the lack of professionalism among community based media houses in Rwenzori.

PIC: A cross section of leaders from the Rwenzori Region during a panel discussion on September 30, 2016. Photo/ Courtesy

Leaders from Rwenzori region have raised several issues that affected 2016 elections which they said could have resulted into some of the conflicts that rocked their region in the post-election period.

This was in the third regional post-election reflection forum organised by Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) in Rwenzori region on Friday.

According to the statement issued by CCEDU coordinator, Crispin Kaheru, on Friday, the meeting took place at Bugombwa Catholic Parish Hall in Bundibugyo district.

The forum was part of CCEDU's strategic interventions designed to facilitate the establishment of a renewed political/electoral reform agenda, 2016 through the re-prioritization of electoral reform issues.  

Regional media accused
Prominent of issues they said could have resulted into the conflicts was the lack of professionalism among community based media houses in Rwenzori.

Dr Swizen Kyomuhendo, the former spokesperson of Obundingha bwa Bwamba, said community-based media outlets did not follow standards of balanced media coverage and reporting.

"Local radios did little to provide voters with a plurality of views and diverse information about contestants and other political subjects. The media outlets were largely aligned to a particular political party, contestant or cultural institution," he said.   

Rwenzori region has over twenty (20) radio stations.

Ethnic rivalry
During the meeting it was also noted that the elections within Rwenzori were largely characterized by tension caused by hate speech campaigns of political contestants and ethnic rivalries between the Bakonzo and Bamba.

Yeremia Mutoro, who represented the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, said Bamba and Bankozo should stop fighting over cultural institutions because none of them was born in Rwenzururu movement.

He said the movement was a unifying movement during the liberation war that led to cessation of the Bamba and Bakonzo from Toro kingdom.

The Obudhingiya Bwa Bwamba Prime Minister, Wilson Mubulya, said the post conflict is an issue that can be sorted between leaders of various ethnic groups.
Kaheru said the conflict has not only jeopardized a fragile recovery from the Allied Democratic Forces rebel activities in the region, it calls into question what many consider a promising experiment in handling ethnic rivalries.

"The Rwenzori ethnic rivalries have long been an explosive problem in the region and have often come to the fore during elections," Kaheru said in the statement.

Post-election reflection forum participants
Over 300 participants from Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kasese, Ntoroko, Kyenjojo, and Kamwenge districts convened at the forum and pledged to contribute to better, peaceful and participatory elections.
Participants included representatives of the Electoral Commission, political parties, security agencies, parliament, local government and cultural/traditional institutions.

The forum involved civil society actors including non-governmental organization working on governance issues in the Rwenzori region, religious leaders, media representatives and members of the general public.

The forum offered a level platform for key actors in the political process to share perspectives on the 2016 general election whilst generating ideas on the path for the necessary political/electoral and constitutional reforms.

Kaheru said CCEDU will compile the views generated from the forum with a view of inspiring efforts towards generating a renewed political/electoral reform agenda, 2016.

"At the broader national level, the key issues emerging from the regions will inform the agenda on constructive political/electoral reform to be pursued by CCEDU together with its partners in the current legislature period (2016 – 2021)," the statement said.

It said the forums are envisaged to lay the foundation of the next phase of the campaign for meaningful political/electoral and constitutional reforms.

About the conflict
This comes a few months after deadly tribal clashes in Bundibugyo district after disputed LC5 elections where National Resistance Movement's Ronald Mutegeki beat Independent's Jolly Tibemanaya.

In the aftermath of the hotly contested race, more than 40 people were killed and at least 400 houses razed. Both the Bamba/Babwisi and Bakonzo were affected.

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