On Wednesday 28th December 2016, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni held a meeting with political and religious leaders from Kasese District led by the Woman area Member of Parliament Hon. Winnie Kiiza where they discussed a number of cross cutting issues.
The meeting initially had been scheduled to take place before Christmas day but it was shelved because Kasese MPs had set conditions they wanted met first. One was the unconditional release of Charles Wesley Mumbere, the Rwenzururu king, who they wanted to be part of the meeting.
The meeting came more than a month after clashes between security forces and royal guards from Rwenzururu kingdom left more than 100 people dead. After the clashes, Charles Wesley Mumbere, the Rwenzururu king, was arrested and charged with murder and terrorism. He remains incarcerated at Luzira prison.
The meeting was attended by Winnie Kiiza, MPs Harold Muhindo (Bukonzo East), Robert Centenary (Kasese municipality), Atkins Katusabe (Bukonzo West) and William Nzoghu (Busongora North).
Other Kasese leaders in attendance were; Geoffrey Sibendire, the Kasese district chairperson, and Rt Rev Jackson Nzerebende, the South Rwenzori bishop.
Anita Among, the Bukedea Woman MP, also surprisingly attended the meeting. She stayed silent for most of the meeting, having reportedly played a behind-the-scenes role in ensuring the meeting took place.
During the conclave at Mr. Museveni’s Kisozi country home, he made a stern warning towards persons exploiting the Kasese question “threatening to frame certain individuals while also offering false information to the police.”
“It’s a crime to extort and blackmail. Let’s allow police do its work professionally and truthfully,” the President said.
This closed-door meeting between President Museveni and political leaders from Kasese district on turned into a blame game with each side accusing the other of fanning the crisis in the western district and Rwenzuru kingdom.
Sources said when the meeting kicked off, the leaders made a number of demands. They told the president that the charges against Mumbere should either be dropped or the president should intervene and ensure the king is released on bail.
Museveni reportedly said he could not interfere with a matter which is in court. The leaders complained that some elements within the security forces are blackmailing people, telling them that their names are on the wanted list.
“They tell them that if you don’t give us money, we shall continue hunting you,” one of the MPs told Museveni.
To this, the president warned the those involved, calling them “opportunists”.
“I want to discourage opportunists who are taking advantage of this situation to create a stampede and frame their friends,” Museveni said.
“Those exploiting the Kasese situation to extort money by threatening to frame individuals while giving police fake information are warned” the president said.
The president also warned political leaders whom he accused of dragging the king and the Rwenzururu kingdom into politics.
“You cannot drag the king into politics. That is dangerous and I will not tolerate it,” Museveni said during the meeting.
The MPs, who are all members of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), could not take the accusation lying down.
They, too, accused Museveni of dragging the kingdom into politics.
“In 2011, officials from the kingdom campaigned for you openly in Kasese. They were given money by NRM,” Winnie Kiiza, the leader of the opposition in Parliament who led the delegation, reportedly shot back.