In response to the 26th and 27th November 2016 Kasese attacks when government forces attacked Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu Prime Minister’s office and King’s Palace respectively, where royal guards, civilians and Police lost lives( allegedly 62-according to Police reports), Civil society organizations operating in Rwenzori converged in Kasese Municipality on 6th/12/2016 at the Municipal council hall to meet the Kasese District resident commissioner(RDC) to discuss urgent mechanisms of restoring sustainable peace in Kasese and Rwenzori at large.
|Jimmy Odyek of RWECO,Moderating the Meeting|
Participants totaling to twenty one (21; 2 females and 19 Males) attended and participated in the Meeting. The meeting majorly targeted executive Directors of the Rwenzori based Civil society organizations operating in Kasese District, Managers of the four FM radio stations in Kasese District, heads of the Peace desks for Catholics, Anglican, Moslems and Pentecostal Churches in Kasese and Resident District Commissioner.
Among other organizations that attended were Rwenzori consortium for Civic Competence as the host with its members that include; Good Hope Foundation for Rural Development(GHFRD), KALI, RIDE-AFRICA and RIC-NET, and other organizations including among others; KADDNET,ACODEV,FURA,NAYODE, Rwenzori anti-Corruption coalition(RAC), Pentecostals Pastor and media houses that were represented by UBC-NGEYA FM, and RDC and his deputy.
|CSOs Members in a meeting at Kasese Municipal Council Hall|
During the meeting, key pertinent issues were raised by participants as being causes/ or triggers of Conflicts in Rwenzori and Kasese in particular, referring to the recent attacks, and the following were noted as triggers/causes;
· Alleged growing number of royal guards’ camps in Kasese District and one in Kabarole District
· Miss trust among the different development stakeholders in Kasese, including local people, Police, Royal guards, UPDF and other government institutions. There has been a growing lack of trust of each other in as far as conflicts in the region are concerned.
· Miss information about Rwenzori and Kasese issues to the Central government by majorly politicians and some elders. A case in point is Yiira State secessionist roomer, and framing domestic conflicts as tribal and therefore engineered by Kingdom
· Actions of OBR whereby it continued to recruit big numbers of royal guards.
· Un clear demarcation of kingdoms’ boundaries in Rwenzori region
· Covering the truth about Rwenzori issues by some self seekers/opportunists
· Political conflicts have resulted into killings of innocent people
· Reluctancy of government to handle problems of rwenzori as they occur. Small issues have piled up, resulting into conflicts like land issues, failure to fulfill promises etc
· Un clear reports about the previous attacks like in 2014 and March 2016 whereby government arrested the alleged leaders of the attacks but never let them to face justice. This raised suspicion among the populace about who could be engineering killings in the region; Government or some one else?
· Internal fighting within OBR allegedly planned and promoted by external forces with in Government
· High level Poverty among community members who are easily manipulated and therefore easily engaged in escalating conflicts
· Hostility of government against royal guards who naturally find a way of protecting themselves too
· Lack of consistency with in OBR Leadership whereby every leader who comes in office does not refer to his/her predecessor’s records
· Not being selective in recruiting royal guards. Some of them are ex-soldiers and therefore used to the aggressiveness of soldiers.
· Two strong centers of power in the District especially the RDC and LCV Chairpersons offices almost working as parallel offices and yet they all target the same local community members
The Kasese Resident District Commissioner, Major James Mwesige made the following response and remarks about Kasese Conflicts;
· With in the kingdom, there are three different divergent thinkings. These fail to agree and create an environment for a conflict among the Kingdom subjects
· The OBR having a whole security force threatens government and therefore calling for government action
· Failure by his Majesty to listen to President Call whereby the president asked the Kingdom to disband the royal guards department and government promised to provide two(2) royal guards per sub county for the kingdom and put them on salary scale, but his majesty never complied
· The excessive force by UPDF when attacking the Palace on 27th/11/2016 was because the enemy was in a fenced location, and therefore the government had no way out
· Government is committed to building Peace in Kasese and Rwenzori region at large.
The Meeting zeroed on the following action points as the next step towards peace building and sustainability in Kasese District;
- CSOs to separately meet OBR Cabinet and Veterans team
- CSOs to organize another specific dialogue with Kasese inter-religious council
- CSOs to organize another meeting with Kasese District executive committee
- CSOs to organize an interface meeting with Kasese District members of Parliament
- Organizing continuous dialogues between government and OBR
- Lobby for a psycho-social program for Kasese District because most people have been psychologically traumatized by the attacks and deaths of many people.