Army moves mambas to Kasese to crush Mumbere loyalists again

Brigadier Peter Elwelu who was later promoted to Major General and appointed Land Forces commander.

On Sunday, armed police and soldiers from the national army heavily deployed in Kasese town ahead of a commemoration of those killed during November 26 and 27, 2016 clashes between UPDF and Rwenzururu royal guards.

The clashes resulted in the death of 100 people. The kingdom now marks one year since the raid on the palace that saw the arrest of the Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere and 161 of his people.

The raid was commanded by then Second Division Commander, Brigadier Peter Elwelu who was later promoted to Major General and appointed Land Forces commander.

Government accused the king of refusing to hand over the guards accused of several crimes as seen from the 41 counts of treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder, robbery and malicious damage to property which were brought against them in Jinja Chief Magistrates Court.

According to Human rights Watch, 55 people, including 14 police officers, were killed on November 26 and more than 100 people killed by joint security forces.

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Stiff deployment

The state-run New Vision reports that two security agencies were seen patrolling through strategic places either on foot or aboard trucks, periodically backed by armoured trucks, locally known as mamba one of which stationed at the main Kasese-Mbarara-Fort Portal round-about.

The Police blocked a public prayer function that the district executive committee, led by the district chairperson, Godfrey Sibendire Bigogo planned to be held at the Rwenzori Square in Kasese town centre. They were told to pray from their homes.

The Rwenzori east regional Police commander (RPC), SSP Ceaser Tusingwire told the newspaper the deployments followed intelligence reports that some people in the district were planning to stage demonstrations and other disruptive activities to commemorate those killed in the clashes in various parts of Kasese.

A burning palace of Rwenzururu king

“We have always had Police and soldiers in Kasese as part of their routine deployments. But when we got intelligence reports that some people were planning to disrupt Saturday and Sunday and to attack police and army units, we scaled up the deployments,” Tusingwire said.

He added: “We are ready to deal harshly with whoever dares police and the army.”

The deputy resident commissioner, Aminadabu Muhindo, also confirmed intelligence information that some sections of the public were planning a black Sunday and a black Monday.

“We do not want a repeat of the bloody events that occurred last year,” said Muhindo who chairs the district security committee.

Rwenzururu spokesperson, Clarence Bwambale, told Vision the kingdom had not organised any commemorative function.

“Let us avoid creating scenes that may cost lives again. We have gone through hard times and we need to allow people to recover from this,” he said.

Tense situation

Uganda Radio Network [URN] reports that outside the palace, barricades manned by the army and police have been erected 200 meters away from the main entrance.

There is also no sight of the huts outside the palace which accommodated royal guards. They were all burnt during the attack.

Inside the palace grass has overgrown in the vast compound. There is no indication that it was once a royal palace.

There are also remains of seven small grass thatched huts which belonged to the royal guards.

The large grass thatched building that housed the Rwenzururu Parliament and storage of royal regalia is no more. No single remains of the building can be traced.

The main house with a royal emblem of the Obusinga remains intact. The windows and walls however have bullet holes.

A glance inside the house reveals abandoned chairs, tables and other household items belonging to the Omusinga.

The Omusinga’s bedroom and office remain closed. Dirt and dust are all in the corners of the house. The grey paint has all peeled off.

Credit: URN/NV