"The legal process should take its course but with fairness, openness and justice such that a lasting solution is reached..."
Left to right: Executive director Rwenzori Centres Network (RIC-NET) John Silco, Chief executive officer of Foundation Urban and Rural Advancement (FURA) Reuben Mbauta and Country Manager of International Alert Richard Businge discussing about the Violence in the Rwenzori region during CSO leaders Crisis meeting at Sliver Springs Hotel in Bugolobi on December 14, 2016. Photos by Mary Kansiime
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) operating in the Rwenzori region are demanding for a speedy, transparent and fair trial of the Omusinga of the Rwenzururu Kingdom, Charles Wesley Mumbere and his royal guards who were arrested, charged and detained over the Kasese clashes.
"The legal process should take its course but with fairness, openness and justice such that a lasting solution is reached. The process should aim at promoting meaningful dialogue and reconciliation based on the truth," said Reuben Mbauta, the Chief Executive Officer Foundation for Rural and Urban Advancement (FRUA).
He said that it is only when the truth has been revealed that government will be able to make strategic investments and action plans to uproot the real cause of the conflict in the region.
Violent clashes between the Omusinga's palace guards and security officers broke out two weeks ago leaving over 100 people dead, several injured, property destroyed and scores arrested including Mumbere. He is currently in Luzira prison on charges of Murder, terrorism and robbery.
Speaking at Silver Springs hotel, Bugolobi, on Wednesday, the CSOs condemned the continued arrest of the royal guards, stating that it does not aim at resolving the conflict but instead escalates it.
They said that most of the guards have now run into hiding and there is worry that they might reconvene into a bigger group and become a threat to the peaceful co-existence of the people in the Rwenzori Region.
"Arresting them is just tackling the issue on the surface; it will not resolve the problem. They should go down and find out the root cause and unless they do that, the problem will continue to re-emerge," Richard Businge, the Country Director International Alert said.
He said that government should put in place conditions and create a passage that will enable people still at large, hiding in fear of being incarcerated, to come out in the spirit of peace and reconciliation.
Businge condemned the government directives to cultural institutions to downsize the number of guards saying that it will create more problems.
"Before disbanding them, government should register all the guards, know them, counsel and help them reintegrate in the community. Disbanding them without strategy will create more problems because they may reconvene and become a threat," he stated.
Deborah Baguma, the publicity secretary of the Rwenzori Women for Peace Forum said that government and the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu should check the way they are handling the situation, clean it up and start on a fresh page where everyone takes responsibility for what went wrong and appreciate that there is need to move forward.
They also warned politicians especially the parliamentarians against making hurtful statements about the situation and asked them to refrain from making such statements when they are not sure of their impact on the affected communities.
This was during a two day meeting held by the CSOs to dialogue on the Kasese conflict and come up with a joint approach on how to resolve it and stop further occurrences of the same.
The meeting was convened by International Alert and Rwenzori Forum for Peace and Justice (RFPJ).
They want government to dialogue with the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu and the leadership of the whole region such that a collective decision is reached.
They also want to be given access to the detainees such that they can know how they are.
Murugara John Silco, the CEO Rwenzori Information Centre Network noted that the clashes have exposed the failure by government to implement their recommendations on the issues affecting the region.
Therefore, it should use this time to look into them and implement.
He also wants the Cultural Institutions Act to be amended.