Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere has succumbed to government pressure and called off the intended travel to Bundibugyo district for his kingdom’s peace day event. There is reported calm in Bundibugyo district.
Government on Friday stopped Mumbere, a Mukonzo, from traveling to Bundibugyo where the Bamba and Babwisi accuse the king of trying impose himself on them. A similar visit last year resulted into ethnic clashes leaving at least 400 people displaced.
Police deployed heavily both in Bundibugyo and at Mumbere’s palace in Kasese in a bid to block him from traveling. On Saturday morning, at the time he was scheduled to travel to Bundibugyo, Mumbere stormed out of his palace but was blocked and tried to walk on foot to Kasese town where his supporters were waiting for him.
The king was, however, blocked just 200 metres outside his palace by the police commanded by Director of Operations, Grace Turyagumanawe. The two engaged in a verbal exchange with the king accusing the police of siding with the Bamba, Babwisi and Basongora against the Bakonzo.
By Sunday morning, police was still deployed heavily around Mumbere palace in Kasese town, as subjects spent the night drumming and dancing amidst reports that he would force his way out of the palace again to try to head to Bundibugyo for the peace day that is celebrated every June 30.
But Acting Prime Minister Ivan Syauswa told a press conference at the palace on Sunday that the King has postponed his travel to Bundibugyo district for security reasons, as advised by the government. Syauswa, however, says the postponement doesn’t mean Mumbere has given in to pressure from the Bamba and Bawisi who are planning to install their own cultural leader.
He said that the celebrations to make the peace day are ongoing in many places around the Kingdom but what has been postponed is the King’s travel and the ceremonial rituals at the would be venue for the event.
He urged all the people of Rwenzururu to keep peace as celebrations go on in their homes and villages.
He said that no other date will be set this year for the postponed function because people have already celebrated from their places, adding that this is an annual event and the Kingdom will wait for next
Meanwhile there were overnight celebrations at Kasulenge Hill in Bundibugyo district as the Rwenzururu flag was hoisted at midnight to commemorate the day in 1962, when the Bakonzo and Bamba declared their independence from Tooro Kingdom which they had accused of subjugation.
The Acting Premier said that hundreds of Bakonzo were celebrating throughout the whole of Saturday night and Sunday morning despite having no chance to host their King.
In the palace, only the Kingdom flag was flying an indication that they were also celebrating the day.
On receiving the news of the postponement of Mumbere’s travel plans, the Deputy Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango, who was still in Kasese, said everyone in the force is happy since the King’s action means there will be no violence.
Asked about the continued deployment in the two districts, Onyango said the police have to keep around to monitor how people react to the King’s decision not to travel.
Onyango said there is intelligence reports that a group of Bakonzo wants to kidnap the King and hide him in an unknown place in order to put the government to task to explain his whereabouts. He said the security will keep monitoring the King’s palace until sanity is restored.
Police tracks and officers were still deployed in Kasese town centre throughout Sunday afternoon.