Friday, 10 February 2017

Rwenzururu king freed on bail as loyalists remain jailed

Rwenzururu cultural leader, Charles W. Mumbere Iremangoma was granted bail on February 6 by Uganda's High Court sitting in the eastern town of Jinja.

Mumbere had been arrested on November 27, 2016 after the Uganda security forces stormed his palace and killed over 100 suspected loyalists. This was after the king had allegedly defied an order by President Yoweri Museveni to disband hundreds of royal guards who had been in the palace. Mumbere was arrested with over 140 loyalists who include his prime minister, cooks, juveniles, drivers, etc.

Photo by Chimp Reports
Uganda security forces' attack on the Rwenzururu palace was condemned as having been excessive force.

Mumbere was released on a non-cash bail of Shs100 million (about $27,400).

 In mid January, Mumbere had been granted bail by the same court only to be re-arrested within the court precincts by the Uganda security officers on fresh charges of alleged robbery, terrorism and attempted murder.

The February 6 bail therefore was a sigh of relief for hundreds of thousands of Mumbere's subjects in the Rwenzori mountains, in Western Uganda.

But, the excitement about Mumbere's release on bail was short-lived as his subjects understood his bail conditions. The bail conditions seemed to state that Mumbere was changing from a government prison to "house arrest" of sorts.

He cannot travel to Rwenzori sub region, where his kingdom is based, unless courts of law allow him. He will only freely travel within Kampala, Wakiso and Jinja districts under the watchful eye of Uganda security personnel.

Only close family members, lawyers and doctors of Mumbere can visit him at his house. Others who wish to visit the traditional leader have to seek permission of the Uganda police.

Some people have been asking about the fate of the loyalists arrested together with Mumbere. The officials of Rwenzururu cultural institution say their first target was to secure the release of the king and later the arrested loyalists.

Behind the scenes meetings and negations are taking place to have the loyalists released out of Kirinya Prison.

We can hope that people of Rwenzori can intensify the healing and reconciliation process to guarantee lasting peace in the region.

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