A year after a joint operation by security agencies raided the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu kingdom in Kasese leaving scores dead, a team has been selected to foresee negotiations aimed at restoring peace in the fragile Rwenzori subregion.
The 10 person team that consists of government representatives, security, Rwenzururu kingdom officials and others will lead efforts to settle the fluid relations between the cultural institution and central government.
In October 2016, spates of attacks of security establishments were reported in Kasese creating tension prompting government to intervene. It was later discovered that the attacks were being mounted by royal guards loyal to the Rwenzururu King Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere.
Insecurity heightened in the region for weeks forcing people to leave their homes and engagements between government and kingdom officials had failed to restore calm. The kingdom had been adamant to disband its royal guards that government claimed had formed a militia causing terror and agitating for creation of a separate republic.
A lack of trust had emerged, on the one hand, government accusing the kingdom of undermining the state while on the other, a cultural institution that said it was only protecting itself.
It is this impasse that culminated into the infamous attack on the Rwenzururu King’s palace at Buhikira on November 27, 2016 by police and the army. Atleast 62 people including 14 police officers were left dead in separate sporadic attacks and the clashing that rocked the palace compound before it was burnt down.
In an unprecedented response from government, King Charles Wesley Mumbere and some of his other royal leaders were arrested and detained hundreds of miles away at Nalufenya in Jinja district.
King Mumbere was charged in court with murder, terrorism, treason, and malicious damage to property, and remanded to Kirinya prison but was two months later granted bail.
Now, twelve months since the kingdom was dragged into the ruins, the King has selected a team that he believes will champion peace and stability in the richly endowed Rwenzori region.
On the committee, the kingdom will be represented by Her Royal Highness of Rwenzururu kingdom, Queen Agnes Ithungu Asimawe, the Rwenzururu Prime Minister Edwin Kugonza and Enoch Muhindo the Speaker of the Cultural Parliament.
Other delegates from the Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu include Alfred Makasi the Kingdom Attorney General and Best Juliet Bakoko the Minister of Education.
The side of the central government will be led by Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, Lt Gen Wilson M. Mbadi the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) and Major James Nkojo of Operation Wealth Creation.
Also selected to be part of the team is businessman Chris Kaijuka and communications guru Sarah Kagingo.
The joint committee of Government and Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu will be chaired by Dr. Ambrose Agona, the Executive Director for National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).
The committee that was flagged off on Tuesday will report to the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.
The team of 10 will in its terms of reference set out to “come up with a list of key facts and areas of concern from the historical perspective progressively to the recent years and modern times highlighting what must never go wrong again”.
They will also formulate resolutions on key issues aimed at fostering security and stability as well as peaceful coexistence of the people of Rwenzori region.
Owing to the divisions that the conflict caused within the kingdom and the wider population in Rwenzori region, the team is tasked to “mobilize communities towards the agreed positions on peace, stability and development”.
In order to ensure reparation, the committee will recommend methods of settling the various groups that were affected by the conflict.
The other deliverables are; proposing ways to foster economic development in the region as well as developing key items and resolutions that will lead to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between government and Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu.
Both sides acknowledge that peace and stability is paramount if Rwenzori region as a whole, the Kingdom and citizens are to benefit from the immense agricultural, tourism and mineral potential that lies in Rwenzori region.