The government has blocked Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere from visiting Bundibugyo districtfor the annual celebration of the Kingdom’s peace day set for Sunday, June 30.
The Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura who is camping in Kasese since Thursday announced today that the central government advised King Mumbere and his subjects to have the celebrations in Kasese district where his palace is.
On May 11, the Bamba and Bawisi, the dominant tribes in Bundibugyo petitioned government to block King Mumbere from celebrating the peace day in the district as they also prepare to have their own cultural institution, Obundingiya Bwa Bwamba, recognized.
Addressing a press conference at the Margarita Hotel in Kasese town, Gen. Kayihura said he has deployed heavily in Kasese to prevent Mumbere’s subjects, the Banyarwenzururu, from turning chaotic as their King Mumbere is barred from leaving for Bundibugyo.
Police patrol vehicles, tear gas and water spray vehicles were seen being driven along the streets of Kasese town today morning before being packed at the Central Police Station.
The situation in Kasese town is calm as people are concentrating on their work despite the motorized and foot patrols by the police.
However, the Kingdom cabinet sat today and resolved that the King Mumbere must lead the Banyarwenzururu to Bundibugyo district. Acting Prime Minister Ivan Syauswa says the scheduled celebrations have nothing to do with alleged imposition of Konjo culture on the Bamba and Babwisi.
Syauswa says that the function is historical to be hosted in Bundibugyo because it is where the Rwenzururu Kingdom flag was first hoisted on Kasulenge hill on June 30, 1962 to declare independence from Tooro Kingdom. On that day, representatives from Busongora and Bwamba walked out of the Tooro Parliament, the Orukurato, accusing Omukama George Rukidi III and his kingdom of oppressing Bakonzo and Bamba.
Syauswa says the King is set for the journey to Bundibugyo on Saturday at 10am.
The Kasese district chairman Lt.Col. Mawa Muhindo says government has erred by depriving the King of his constitutional right to embark on his Royal visit to Bundibugyo.
In April, hundreds of Banyarwenzururu in Kasese district defied police deployment and proceeded to Kasenyi landing site on Lake George shores, where Mumbere presided over the Kingdom’s environment and Heroes day.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Peace day organizing committee in Bundibugyo, Elisha Sebadu, says preparations are in high gear to host the Omusinga despite reports that the Police Director of Operations Grace Turyagumanawe is camped in the area.
Earlier today, the Ruwenzori Police Spokesperson Bakari Muga told journalists in Fort Portal that the police were waiting for government’s decision on whether Mumbere should be allowed to travel to Bundibugyo.
According to Muga, this position was reached at during a meeting on Friday morning in Bundibugyo district. The meeting was attended by the Resident District Commissioner, members of the district security committee and representatives of the Bamba and Bakonzo communities.
Muga also said that police have beefed up foot and motorized patrol along the Kasese-Fort Portal and Fort –Portal-Bundibugyo roads to ensure people don’t smuggle dangerous weapons to Bundibugyo.
At Kichwamba, along the Fort-Portal-Bundibugyo road, passengers travelling in commuter taxis are subjected to thorough checks and are required to identify themselves, before they are allowed to proceed.
During the press conference, the police also displayed 250 poison-laced arrows which were on Thursday night recovered from two Bakonzo youths in Bundibugyo. The suspects are Paul Kyomuhendo aged 26 years and his elder brother, Jackson Balikamya, who is 29 years. The two hail from Busika village in Ntoroto parish, Bundibugyo district.
Clashes between Bamba and Bakonzo during Mumbere’s visit to Bundibugyo in June last year left at least 400 people displaced