Security agencies failed to give an opportunity to local elected leaders to intervene and avert the Rwenzururu Kingdom palace attack in which over 50 civilians were killed in Kasese district over the weekend, Parliament was told.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues from Kasese, Hon. Franco Robert Centenary (FDC, Kasese Mun.) said Kasese district MPs were in constant communication with security agencies in the area and had been assured that they would not storm the palace.
“We were not given time to negotiate. Why did the UPDF not give time to the duly elected leaders to intervene to avoid loss of life of Ugandans in such a senseless and genocidal way?” asked Hon. Centenary.
Kasese district legislators demanded that their King, Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere, who was arrested on Sunday, be unconditionally released from detention.
MP Centenary demanded that the shootings, bombings and victimization of people in Kasese be stopped forthwith, and that the Chief of Defence Forces and Prime Minister be investigated for issuing orders that led to the killings.
Hon. Godfrey Katusabe (FDC, Bukonjo West), who was inside the King’s Palace during the attack, said security officers had asked the Royal Guards to drop their weapons and leave the Palace before nightfall. He said, however, that the guards were shot at as they lined up to exit the palace.
However, as Parliament debated the Statement on the Security Situation in Kasese district as presented by the Minister of Internal Affairs Gen. Jeje Odongo, the King Omusinga Mumbere was charged with murder in Jinja High Court.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, said investigations were ongoing and the outcome would help guide legislators during their deliberations.
In his Statement, Gen. Jeje Odongo ruled out the possibility of the creation of a Bakonzo State in western Uganda.
“Talk of cessation and creation of the Bakonzo state of Yiira has been doing the rounds in the public domain for sometime now. Government has been clear that this dream is an impossibility in the present times,” Odongo said.
The Minister gave a chronology of the violence in Kasese district since the 1960s and attributed it to tensions between the Obusinga and the Obudingiya bwa Bwamba cultural institutions that were created to achieve political and social harmony in the area. He also cited land conflicts between the Bakonzo and other communities and economic factors.
“It should be noted that the current security situation has no connection to claims of political persecution by some area leaders,” said Odongo. “The occurrences are a matter of security and criminality for which some individuals have to take responsibility.”
MPs resolved that there should never be any reason for people to resort to violence, but rather to dialogue over disagreements. Members demanded that a select committee of Parliament be instituted to probe the killings in Kasese.
Parliament Speaker Kadaga ruled that the House would take a decision on the matter during the sitting on Wednesday 1st December 2016.