Thursday, 15 December 2016

Inside Museveni's first meeting with Rwenzururu delegation after palace attack

Was Omusinga misled by some of his officials? His brother, Christopher Kibanzanga, thinks so.

Rwenzururu kingdom minister, Thembo Kitsumbire, has been arrested. This comes after a week Kitsumbire told the press that Obusinga (kingdom) officials had met with President Museveni. 

Days after the deadly November 27 attack on Omusing [king] a Charles W. Mumbere Iremangoma's Kasese palace, President Yoweri Museveni met a group of 23 elders from Rwenzururu kingdom. After the palace raid, Mumbere was arrested and he has since been charged with treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery together with 150 kingdom subjects.

So, this Rwenzururu delegation was meeting the president as a dejected people. The delegation included 10 Rwenzururu veterans (elderly; the guys who fought for Bakonzo freedom from Toro kingdom), 10 "insiders" of Rwenzururu kingdom, Christopher Taban Kibanzanga, Christine Mukirania (Nyamukama, mother of Iremangoma) and J. Thembo Kitsumbire, until then the acting premier of the cultural institution.

Note that Kibanzanga is a minister of state for agriculture in Museveni's government. He is also a chief prince (whatever that means) in Rwenzururu kingdom.

One of the men paraded to the media by Uganda security as they combed Rwenzori mountains for suspected criminals after the raid on Obusinga palace in Kasese

The 23 people of Rwenzururu met President Museveni at State House, Entebbe. They arrived at a time when Museveni was having a series of meetings with other groups, so they had to wait for their turn. Anyone who has ever been at Uganda's state house to meet President Museveni knows what it means to wait to meet him. Museveni is always a busy man, so waiting for your turn to see him face to face can take several hours of waiting. 

As the Rwenzururu group waited, a meal was served. According to sources majority of these people refused the presidential meal save for Kibanzanga and his mother, Christine. This was around lunch time. 

The presidential meeting came on the heels of a horrible raid on Rwenzururu palace in which over 100 people died and 16 police officers. So the mood was charged. The Rwenzururu delegation could be said to have been in the mood of fear and anger after the killings at the palace by Uganda security forces. 

Official reasons the Museveni government has given for the attack on the palace is failure for Mumbere Iremangoma to disband traditional royal guards and surrender the guards suspected of having committed crimes. The Uganda government had advised the king that it was illegal to rise hundreds of guards as these were being viewed at as a militia by some government officials. 

However, Rwenzururu officials say the time for palace raid coincided with the time when the king had just agreed to surrender the guards. And the king was reportedly waiting for safe passage of guards to government representatives.

Back at State House, Entebbe president Museveni was still holed up in meetings. The Rwenzururu delegation kept waiting. Dinner was served. The Rwenzururu group was again skeptical eating the state house meal except Kibanzanga and his mother. 

As a way of trying to diffuse the embarrassment, Kibanzanga advised the Rwenzururu delegation to go eat from the table that had been organized for the a group from Gulu that had also come to meet the President.

Later, the Rwenzururu delegation was led into the meeting room. After exchanging pleasantries, Museveni asked Kibanzanga to be the language interpreter. The meeting started with Museveni ordering Kitsumbire to explain what he had agreed upon with him and the Rwenzururu delegation in the February 2016 meeting. 

Apparently in that February meeting, it had been agreed that Iremangoma gets land and develops it for self sustenance of his family. Shs250 million was provided for the purchase of this land. In the same meeting it had also been agreed that Omusinga keeps only 45 royal guards where 9 would be stationed in the palace to assist in cooking and doing the traditional rituals that the UPDF royal guards would not perform.The other guards would be at cultural sites and subcounties performing cultural duties.To execute this plan, Museveni had offered to have the 45 guards trained by the UPDF and they would be paid a salary by government, sources say.

This was not enough, the remaining royal guards would be disbanded and given a package of Shs2.5 million each by government to begin their reintegration back into the community. The Rwenzururu veterans would be incorporated into the existing national veteran schemes.

So, Museveni asked whether any of this was done? Kitsumbire replied in the negative and claimed part of the Shs250 million was used to buy boots for the traditional royal guards.
Some members of the (23-elders) Rwenzururu delegation were shocked because they were hearing this February meeting resolutions for the first time. 

Museveni was not done yet. He reportedly asked how many delegations he had sent to Obusinga to remind the leaders of the cultural institution of the urgent need to disband the royal guards that had become a security concern and the response they got. One particular response that Kitsumbire gave to one of the State House emissaries to Obusinga was: "tell the president that cultural matters are handled slowly" so no need to pressure us. Kitsumbire attempted to deny this allegation but was subdued when a soldier whom he reportedly told this was brought in the meeting room to quote Kitsumbire's retort verbatim.

The president read out Article 208(4) from the constitution which gives power to rise an army to the government of Uganda alone not any other person.
 [ No person shall raise an armed force except in accordance with this Constitution.]

Those who wish to rise private security, have to get a license from government authorities. Obusinga had not registered the royal guards as a private security (company) as required by Uganda's laws. 

According sources, during the meeting, Museveni said he was aware the delegation would wish to ask him to release the king but he said the matter of the king was being handled by the judiciary which is an independent organ of state. He reportedly said it is the court to determine whether Mumbere should be released or not. Remember, there has been a section of the public that has been calling for unconditional release of the king.

In all, the president asked the elders to go back to the community and preach peace. The Rwenzururu delegation left state house Entebbe, with an allowance of Shs750,000 each. Sources say some members of the delegation rejected the allowance.

From this meeting some Rwenzururu officials said to have been kept in the dark of the February offer the president had promised if the guards were disbanded. They were angry. 

After that presidential meeting, there was an announcement that Kitsumbire was not the prime minister of Rwenzururu instead the deputy prime minister Yeremia Mutoro was announced as the acting prime minister and would steer the kingdom affairs until the king returns to the palace.

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