“The Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu is considering taking court action against the central government for what it alleges is the continued attack on its subjects by government security agencies. Noah Nzaghale, the kingdom premier told NTV in Kasese town that the ongoing dialogue between government and the cultural institution had called for a ceasefire by all security agencies. The warning comes on the backdrop of the killing last weekend, of one of the royal guards as police moved in to arrest people who had locked themselves up in a house under unclear circumstances” (NTV Uganda, 2016)
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) expresses grave concern about recent clashes between the Bamba-Babwisi and Bakonzo communities in the Rwenzori region, and calls on the Ugandan government to investigate the root causes of the conflict. The violence has left at least 33 dead, 10,000 displaced and 366 houses burnt.
The first attacks broke out following the declaration of local council election results on 27 February, although many brushed them off as simply post-election violence. However, despite heavy police and military deployment, the killings have continued, with victims including a 13 year-old in Kanyansiri village in Bundibugyo district.
Addressing a press conference, President Yoweri Museveni told media that although his government had never deployed the army to quell a tribal conflict, he was going to now do so.
‘While we understand the President’s urgency to solve this problem, a military solution treats the symptoms not root causes. There is need for genuine dialogue among communities in conflict, mediated by a team of experts,’ says MRG Africa Office Manager, Agnes Kabajuni.
The events playing out in Rwenzori replicate a scenario in 2014, when violence between communities claimed 72 lives.
According to MRG, the causes of the current conflict in Rwenzori date back many decades.
For instance, to solve the Rwenzururu war, a guerilla campaign waged by both the Bakonzo and Bamba to gain recognition and secede from Toro Kingdom, then President Idi Amin negotiated a settlement to create Rwenzori District for the Bakonzo, Semliki District for the Bamba and Kabarole District for the Batoro.
The Rwenzururu Kingdom, now comprising Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntoroko districts has since the 1980s established itself as a movement which has continued to pose a serious threat to central government control. In order to calm the ethnic tensions in the region, the government in March 2008, after a ministerial committee recommendation, endorsed the Kingdom of Rwenzururu as a cultural institution headed by King Mumbere.
However, the decision to endorse Rwenzururu Kingdom was done with no prior and adequate consultation of both tribes in Kasese and Bundibugyo, pre-empting demands for recognition of other tribes like Basongora, Banyabindi and Bamba.
‘It is telling to see two groups, which have long co-existed and intermarried, now fighting with each other. At a political level, the government has to facilitate a genuine mediation process involving the Bakonzo under the Rwenzururu Kingdom and the Bamba cultural institution in order that they may peacefully co-exist once more,’ says Kabajuni.
‘As a long term strategy,’ argues Kabajuni, ‘the government has to address the economic marginalization of the communities in the Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko Districts, caused by historical injustices relating to land, equality, decision-making and economic opportunities for all tribes.’
Notes to editors
- Find out more about MRG’s work in Uganda
- Minority Rights Group International is the leading international human rights organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples. We work with more than 150 partners in over 50 countries.
- For further information or to arrange interviews with our partners in Rwenzori region contact:
Mohamed Matovu, Media Officer, MRG Africa (Kampala, Uganda)
M: +256 782 748 189
T: +256 393266832
“”Winnie Kizza says maybe the government is torturing people of Kasese because they voted for opposition” (NBS TV Uganda, 2016).
“The cultural leader of Rwenzururu Kingdom, “Omusinga” Charles Wesley Mumbere, has called for a meeting with President Museveni to resolve the clashes in the Rwenzori region. The Omusinga made the call after holding a meeting with the NRM party’s east-ern region vice chairman Mike Mukula. Mukula paid the leader a visit to try and broker talks to avert further clashes” (NTV Uganda, 2016).
There some NRM propaganda and certain nonsense going out saying it is reported to FDC or P10 people behind this clashes as they are the ones responsible while this is a reaction; the rigging in Fort Portal that reacted the groups that has clashed before. The last big clash that caught national attention was in 2014 when the Police and Army went in when it escalated between the groups as the sub-region.
“Suspected electoral tribal clashes has hit Busaru sub county in Bundibugyo leaving at least 17 people dead as per police reports. Locals however tell the Investigator the number is higher. The clashes between the Bamba and pockets of Bakonjo have hit the villages of Bubandi, Bumaddu, Nyahuka and Buhindu leaving 15 homes torched and over 400 fleeing for their dear lives” (The Investigator, 27.02.2016).
“50 arrested over Bundibugyo post-election clashes. 12 killed during clashes, over 300 people have already fled their homes. Police have been deployed to restore calm” (URN, 27.02.2016).
Certain rumors for the actions in Bundibugyo:
“That minority king of Bundibugyo, Ntabazi and the ousted chairman five are the ones causing violence in Bundibugyo the chairman deceived the Bamba that if Mr. Mutegeki won their kingdom would lose weight. The omudingiya(king) said,he would undress his crown if Mr. Mutegeki and finally passed the elections.to a surprise they all passed.so there is fear the Bakonzo are deing for voting Mr Mutegeki.(truth everyday)who is causing the problem”.
There been reports that this stems from the change of the ballots and rigging the result after the Electoral Commission changed the results. This here is footage proving the counting of the result from the Busaru sub-county in Bundibugyo, Mr. Mutegeki was supposed to elect but the incumbent Jolly got the place and after that the violence escalated.
Here is the evidence:
“As Okware this is my proof to show that Hon. Mutegeki Ronald is the newly Elected LC V chairperson #Bundibugyo in addition to today’s monitor and last night’s bulletin on NTV-Uganda at 9:00pm. let Jolly’s team produce evidence”
So the public should know what has happen and that is what not a P10 actions that put this in motion, but the NRM-Regime rigging, and the aftermath was a natural as the locals could not accept the defeat. Especially when the results is not the ones that people expected it to be, the sad thing is the people who lost their lives and the people’s fled their homes. This here is sad story of violence that is unnecessary deaths because of election rigging. What worries me is the way the NRM-Regime and their loyal subjects supress the media with bias. Telling it is Power 10 groups who has done it; without any information blaming Besigye and other officials as they don’t have the manpower or the structure. The ones with guns and mambas are the police, army and crime-preventers not the P10!
Something not needed and proves yet again that the Electoral Commission have done something vile. While they have forgot the outcome of their rigging. That certain men and woman might take revenge or vengeance. Especially in areas like this where they have gone violent before and done skirmishes because of tribal codes. That is why the government should work for unity and for their will, not for the will of one man and his cadres as the President Museveni continues to work for himself and his power. Not the people, and the people of Bundibugyo is the ones that suffers. Peace.
Well, if you are still interested in different sources on the Rwenzori – Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu and the Kasese and in Bundibugyo attack. Then I got some more for you today from different articles. After the tragic attack which killed 93 people and here is the new quotes and information on the sad event that happen in Kasese and Bundibugyo.
Kasese District Police Commander Michael Musani Sabila commented to media that Rwenzururu PM Nzaghale is now released from prison. Sabila continues: “We are still holding three other Rwenzururu officers” (…)”There is a high security alert to counter any further threats” (…)”Registration centres for the ongoing national ID project have also been provided with extra security to ensure the process is not disrupted “ (…)”A good number are calling us, expressing their willingness to surrender, saying they were deceived into taking up arms against the State” (Thwaite, 2014).
The three that still arrested:
– Kingdom Enviroment Officer: Erisaniya Mberemu.
– Information Minister and Kingdoms Spokesman: Joshua Kalimwithako Baluku.
– Chairman of the Rwenzururu Esyomango S’Obusinga(Youth Wing): Mitusera Isebayanda
The Inspector of General of Police Kale Kayihura said: “We have different categories such as actors, planners and organisers who will be handled accordingly to their actions against the State. We have reinforced our system, we shall not leave any stone unturned” (…) “We have released on police bond the two kingdom officials as our investigations into the matter continue. We arrested them because they were implicated”. He also said that he was disappointed with the Obsuninga bwa Rwenzururu (Mugume, 2014).
MPs of all political parties are critical of the ethical dived between Bakjona cultivators and Basongora cattle keepers. Defence Minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga comments: “some people in our society still hold firm beliefs in witchcraft, can easily be duped into criminality and can be very callous in causing death to their brothers and sisters”. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says: “we must not be left to utter the words ‘never again,’ again and again” (…)”indeed; the world has yet to fully overcome its divisions, its indifference, and its moral blind spots. For if not checked, ethnic conflicts are contagious and can spread quickly like cancer cells and eat all the progress achieved over the years” (Mugerwa, 2014).
In Kasese district it would be three kings alone in the groups of the Bakonzo, Basongora and Bayabinindi. This would be:
– Rwenzururu Kingdom of the Bakonzo with Mr. Charles Wesley Mumbere (Only recognized cultural leader by the government).
– Basongora People has recognized as their cultural leader: Mr Ivan Rukirwa Bwambale (not recognized by the government).
– Bayabindi People has recognized as their cultural leader: Mr Elisha Mugisha(not recognized by the government).
In Bundibugyo there you have the kingdom of the Bwamba which actually recently got recongnized by the government. This was as an opposite too the Rwenzururu Kingdom. Bwanba is made for the ethnic groups of Bamba and Babwasi, the issue in the district is that is also having a great number of Bakonzo (Katusabe, 2014).
Ms Polly Namaye deputy spokesman of the Uganda Police has recently addresses the matter and about the issue of the king in custody: “free and there has not been any attempt by the police to summon or arrest him under any circumstance”. She also said: “to have the king summoned the police will not desist (from executing its duties) but will do so in the interest of protecting the lives and properties of all Ugandans equally” (Katusabe, 2014).
Mr Mugisha the Bayabindi leader says: “These activities were carried out by the Bakonzo” (…)”We had informed the authorities that such attacks would happen but our advice was not taken seriously. It could easily be discerned from what many Bakonzo leaders had been saying that an attack on us was imminent. We live in fear” (…)”commemorating the deaths of our people who were killed during the Rwenzururu uprising between 1964 and 1981” (…)”we are different from Bakonzo” (…)”For us we are Bantu-speaking people and we don’t have much in common with the Bakonzo. They therefore targeted us because they associated us with the enemies (the Batooro)” (…)”The army and the police deployed heavily to protect our function; we even had people from State House” (…)”had threatened that if our function took place they would fight” (…)”When they failed to stop the function they diverted their anger to state institutions” (Katusabe, 2014).
Mr Bwambale the in-charge project desk at the Justice and Peace Commission in Kasese which isn’t agreeing with Mugisha is saying: “During the Rwenzururu war starting in the 1960s, our fathers knew that they needed guns to fight to break off from Tooro” (…)”So how can you convince me that in the year 2014, the kingdom of Rwenzururu would organise an attack on a military barracks executed by stick-wielding thugs? It doesn’t make sense” (…)”like his king has argued, that the attack could have been planned by anti-Rwenzururu people to discredit the kingdom. We were unable to establish whether this is one line of investigation the police is following” (…)”Muhindo and all the others should not have died” (…)”it should look at more strategic interventions to address the problem” (…)”There is a danger in the message which the government seems to send to those people who intend to be recognised as cultural leaders” (…)”they seem to be saying that once you fight and win recognition we put you on payroll” (Katusabe, 2014).
Mr. Mumbere says: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the institution of traditional leader or cultural leader may exist in any area of Uganda in accordance with the culture, customs and traditions or wishes and aspirations of the people to whom it applies” (…)”It’s natural resources, especially in the lowlands, which is causing trouble in Kasese especially” (Katusabe, 2014).
Mr Mugisha gives his thoughts on why they should get recognized: “We will stop being marginalized” (…)”we have a very big problem with land; our people have been sidelined. Look at me, I am the king of the Banyabindi but I live on a small plot” (…)”Ibuga Prison farm has a lot of vacant land” (…)”let the government take some of my people there” (Katusabe, 2014).
Rev Can Cornelius Matte the dean of St. Paul Church where he discusses the issues of the Bakonzo. Mr Matte says: “problem of resources is getting worse” (…)”We have had land conflicts in the area for some time but we never predicted that this thing would become this dangerous. We are living in a corridor between national parks, prison and mountains. People are now desperate and something very small causes a very serious reaction. People are now like hungry dogs” (…)”Every year we send people to theological colleges and we have some other opportunities. We ensure that we send a Munyabindi and Musongora. This year the only one we have sent to university is a Musongora” (Katusabe, 2014).
Dr. Kizza Besigye has new comments on Rwenzururu:
“This is not tribal violence as government claims. Why is it only the Police and UPDF being targeted as if they are tribes? It’s because people are fed-up and feel that these are agents of the bigger problem up there” (…)”This situation in western Uganda cannot be detached from the problems in the whole country. The causes are not a local dynamic as it has been reduced but rather a political time bomb government is sitting on”. He describes President Museveni as “king of sectarianism”. Besigye is also addressing Kiyonga actions: ““Kiyonga was there when they carved out Ntoroko for the Batuku from Bundibugyo for the Bamba and have plans to further divide Kasese into four other constituents for the Basongora and other small tribes they want to create” (Musisi, 2014).
Katusabe, Ruth & Mukiibi Ssrunjogi Misari Thembo Kahungu, Eriasa – ‘Inside the melting pot of Rwenzori region’ (13.07.2014) Link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Inside-the-melting-pot-of-Rwenzori-region/-/688334/2381740/-/wckx5vz/-/index.html
Mugume, Colleb & Ninsuma Enid – ‘Police to screen Kasese, Bundibugyo attackers’ (13.07.2014) Link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Police-to-screen-Kasese–Bundibugyo-attackers/-/688334/2381922/-/fvvkg0/-/index.html
Mugerwa, Yaslin – ‘MPs unite against Rwenzori attacks’ (13.07.2014) Link: http://www.monitor.co.ug/OpEd/OpEdColumnists/YasiinMugerwa/MPs-unite-against-Rwenzori-attacks/-/878670/2381556/-/us815oz/-/index.html
Musisi, Fredric & Tumwine, Albert – ‘Govt to blame for Rwenzori attacks’ – Besigye’ (13.07.2014) Link:http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Govt-to-blame-for-Rwenzori-attacks—Besigye/-/688334/2381860/-/dvi3k0z/-/index.html
Thwaite, John B. – ‘Kasese attacks: Rwenzururu premier released’ (12.07.2014) Link:http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/657452-kasese-attacks-rwenzururu-premier-released.html
It’s been movement on the ground. President Museveni has spoken and the Rwenzuru King has also said his piece. First Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and then before I tire you, to you sleep. Please continue to read!
Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga put the actual number of deaths during the siege are now 92(Okello, 2014).
Here is his statement to this Thursday in Parliament:
“The characteristic of the events that unfolded show that some people in our society still hold firm beliefs in witchcraft, can easily be duped into criminality and can be very callous in causing death to their brothers and sisters. The attacks took place on Saturday 5th July between 2 PM and 4 pm in the districts of Bundibugyo, Kasese and Ntoroko. The main targets were police and army positions, wananchi in the case of Kasese, the palace of the Obundingya wa Bwamba and sSanbic bank in Bundibugyo. The attackers were mainly armed with spears, pangas sticks and some guns with the main objectives of getting guns and money. The places attacked in each of the affected districts are; In Bundibugyo the places attacked included; Kanyamirima barracks – 5 kilometers from the town of Bundibugyo, Bundibugyo town where the stanbic bank and the palace of the Omundigyawa Bwamba were key targets. Kirindi shrine,Ntandi and Katumba. In the district of Ntoroko the attacks were at the trading centre of Kibuuku and the police station in Karugutu town council. While in Kasese, the places affected are; a weighbridge opposite KCCL factory on the highway from Kasese to Bushenyi and the villages of Bigando and Ibuga. An estimated total number of 92 people are reported to have lost their lives which include, four police men, three soldiers, three wananchi and 68 attackers in Bundibugyo district, in Ntoroko, one soldier and one wananchi were killed while in Kasese district, 13 people were killed, one police man, one soldier and 11 wananchi lost their lives” (Okello, 2014).
Rwenzuru king Charles Wesley Mumbere statement:
First the Rwenzuru Prime Minister Noah Nzaghale and Minister of Tourism Erisa Mwincubere were taken by the Police at 9 AM at the Office of the Kingdom in Kasese.
The Kings statement: “that the people who attacked on Saturday should be part of his Kingdom’s enemies who did not want him recognized and that they may be looking for means of having the government abolish the institution”(…)”warned government from being biased in handling cultural issues in the Rwenzori region but rather take the task of leading or mediating the reconciliation process”(…)”the decision to arrest the Prime Minister and other officials was hash because no one in the Kingdom including himself is willing to be interviewed at peace as police continue hunting for the wrong elements”(…)”He does not recall agreeing with the president over the matter because his subjects are across the region” (Red Pepper, 2014).
Kings friend Tom Stancy comments: “the United Nations had granted the Bakonzo a state called the Yira Republic. Yira is another name for Bakonzo. On this Mumbere said that document was authored by some of the people who have for a long time opposed the Rwenzururu Kingdom” (Red Pepper, 2014).
Minority Rights Group Africa (MRGA) responds to the attacks:
“Condemns the weekend attacks in Ntoroko, Kasese and Bundibugyo districts in Rwenzori region in Western Uganda which claimed the lives of at least 72 people, including numerous civilians, two soldiers and three police officers”(Matovu, 2014).
Jolly Kemigabo MRGA Office Manager says: “We all know there are historical injustices suffered by some ethnic groups like the Basongora who lost land, but the government has failed to resolve their issues”(…)”The government, with the involvement of all stakeholders, has to push for peaceful co-existence while addressing deep-seated inequality and discrimination leading to the political and social exclusion of minority ethnic groups”(…)” Such steps should include resettlement or compensation for evicted communities, and the economic empowerment of marginalized groups” (Matovu, 2014).
President Yoweri Museveni blames security agencies:
“Fortunately, today Uganda has got a capable State that is able to deal decisively and expeditiously with such schemes although, of course, there was a failure of intelligence. How did these people weave such a scheme without being pre-empted? What were the GISOs doing?” (Kasasira, 2014). Veteran Security Chief David Pukol commented: “What had become of our intelligence agencies? May be everybody is looking at Kyankwanzi resolution, President Museveni’s fifth term and they have forgotten about Al-Shabaab? This intelligence failure has baffled us. It sends a wrong message” (Kasasira, 2014).
I will keep you more updated when I see more news or reports on the matter that fits.
Kasasira, Risdel (10.07.2014) – ‘Rwenzori attacks: Museveni blames intelligence organ’ (the Citizen.co.tz) Link: http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/News/Rwenzori-attacks–Museveni-blames-intelligence-organ/-/1840340/2378786/-/qvgdu8/-/index.html
Matovu, Mohammed (10.07.2014) – ‘To calm ethnic tensions in Rwenzori region, government has to address specific needs of ethnic minorities’ (Minority Rights Group)
Okello, Dickens Honeywell (10.07.2014) – ‘Kiyonga: Why Rwenzori Militants Attacked Defence Installations’ (Chimpreports.com)
Red Pepper (10.07.2014) – ‘Rwenzururu King Speaks Out On Rwenzori Attacks’ (Redpepper.co.ug)