MPs Debate Kasese Killings, Demand More Answers
Parliament was the epicenter of emotions as legislators collectively condemned the killings in Kasese district.
Over the weekend, at least 46 royal guards attached to the palace of King Charles Wesley Mumbere, were killed after police and military officers attacked the Rwenzururu Palace. During the attack, over 130 royal guards were also arrested.
Debate on the matter on November 29, 2016 was preceded by a statement from the Minister of Internal Affairs, General Jeje Odong, who explained in a statement to the House that the royal guards had earlier attacked a joint security patrol team and injured a soldier, while other simultaneous attacks saw 16 policemen killed and 6 guns taken.
Odong revealed that the attackers used petrol bombs, assault rifles, grenades, machetes and spears.
“This led to negotiations with His Highness by both security and political leaders for the attackers to surrender and handover the weapons. In this operation, an assortment of weapons were recovered from the palace, including 7 sub machine guns, pistols, ammunition, machetes, spears and 16 improvised bombs,” Odong said.
The minister explained that the King was taken out of the palace for safety purposes and later taken to Nalufenya Police Station in Jinja.
However, his statement was met with distaste from MPs from Kasese, including William Nzoghu, Busongora North MP, and Atkins Katusabe, who accused the minister of distorting facts.
The duo stated that instead, government rushed to attack the palace without due consideration of the lives of the royal guards whom they claim were not armed but waiting to surrender.
Several MPs condemned the attack, with Jackson Mbaju Busongora South MP calling for calm, stating that all sides need to be sober while discussing these matters because it may exacerbate the issue further.
Odonga Otto, Aruu North MP, wondered why the minister had not outlined what government plans to do for the families of those killed in the clashes.
Alex Ruhunda, Fort Portal Municipality MP, lamented that such clashes are bound to affect tourism in the Rwenzori sub region. He revealed that several tourists had cancelled their trips to Western Uganda due to the killings.
Jessica Ababiku, Adjumani Woman MP, wondered where the intelligence officers, tasked with getting information regarding imminent security threats, were. She said if they were working, they could have averted the clashes.
“Where was the intelligence work to avert this? Can we strengthen the intelligence system to safeguard our people?” she implored.
Kampala Central MP, Mohammed Nsereko tasked the minister to explain the pictures making rounds on social media, showing the bodies of royal guards’ hands tied. Cecilia Ogwal, Dokolo Woman MP, blamed government security forces for their highhandedness in handling the matter.
Matia Kasaija, the Minister of Finance, expressed regret over the incidence in Kasese, noting that such events have gross implications on the economy.
“Every time there is an incident like this, it damages the country’s image locally and abroad. It is unfortunate that this has happened and anybody who has deliberately been involved in this should be condemned. We appeal that as leaders, the best way to solve these disagreements is to talk,” Kasaija said.
Richard Gafabusa Bwamba County MP however supported the arrest of King Mumbere and placed blame on him for the clashes, which he says could have been avoided.
Egunyu Jennifer Buvuma Woman MP wondered why there was a consignment of guns and artillery in the place, if the royal guards were not planning an attack.
However, Katusabe dismissed this, saying it was a fabrication by the security officers.
Several legislators suggested that a select committee is instituted to investigate the matter. However, Matthias Mpuuga, Masaka Municipality MP, said since the Defence and Internal Affairs committee is already probing the matter, they should leave the MPs come up with a comprehensive report.
Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga revealed that during her recent visit to Kasese, she visited the King, who expressed happiness that the committee would probe the root cause of the clashes in the region. Soroti Municipality MP, Herbert Ariko tasked government to give a detailed account of the militia groups they claim are the cause of instability in Rwenzori.