Today marks exactly 54 years since His Majesty the Omusinga(King) Charles Wesley Mumbere Iremangoma ascended to his father’s throne.
Unlike the other days, when it would be a massive anniversary celebration, today Kasese district-the heart of Rwenzururu Kingdom is a shadow of its past.
On 26th November 2016, security forces under the command of Maj.Gen. Peter Elwelu and the endorsement of Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni attacked the Rwenzururu Royal Palace, killing hundreds, including men, women, elderly and at least 15 children.
The palace attacks followed deep-rooted unresolved grievances and periodic violence between the Government of Uganda and the Rwenzururu Kingdom.
In the aftermath of the attacks, the Government of Uganda charged 202 victims of the attacks (including the King, elderly, pregnant women and children) with treason, terrorism and murder, and were later committed for trial in 2017. At least 189 of them are in pre-trial detention, with 8 (including the King) released on bail and the 5 that have since died in prison without justice.
It is evident that the criminal proceedings have been beset with delays throughout the four years since the attack on the palace, and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) neither has the will to prosecute them or withdraw the needless charges. In fact, justice looks more elusive than ever, but we continue to ask the authorities concerned to expendiously handle this matter.
Today, there is continued heavy presence of security forces in Kasese district that exposes government’s erroneous committment to offer conflict management mechanisms as opposed to conflict resolution mechanisms which only result to law and order but not peace. If we must restore peace, then we must work towards achieving justice first, because only conflict resolution mechanisms that recognise truth telling and genuine reconciliation can bring about lasting peace.
To this end, the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs should take a radical shift in the processing of the National Transitional Justice Policy into a bill, so that it is passed into law. This way, areas that have suffered conflict like those in Rwenzori sub-region will find a foundation upon which efforts towards achieving peace are pivoted.
To the Banyarwenzururu, may God give us strength and courage today and always as we continue to pursue the path of justice.
Habwa Kayingo no’businga bwethu.
The views expressed herein are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Africa Tembelea’s editorial stance.
Kiiza, is Kasese District Woman Representative to Parliament of Uganda.