Uganda Today: Jubilation and fanfare of all sorts engulfed Kasese and the whole of Rwenzururu Kingdom as King Wesley Mumbere returned for the first time in seven years to take care of his Kingdom.
It was all pomp as hundreds of people thronged the Kasese airfield,dancing the Kikonzo cultural dance to welcome the king of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, Charles Wesley Mumbere.
Mumbere’s plane touched down at 2:00pm. He was in the company of his wife, Queen Agnes Ithungu, their children and other officials.
The king was welcomed by both political and religious leaders of Kasese.His return ended seven years of him not accessing the kingdom since 2016.
Mumbere, while addressing his subjects, who filled up the Kasese Golf Club, appreciated the Government’s decision to drop the over 70 charges
against him and his subjects.
“I cannot thank the Government enough for being kind to me and Obusinga
Bwa Rwenzururu for dropping all the charges against us,” he said, adding
that he will now focus on the development of the kingdom.
On October 19, 2009, Mumbere was crowned king of Rwenzururu. However, on
November 27, 2016, Mumbere and over 200 royal guards as well as some
kingdom officials were arrested after the army raided the Buhikira royal
palace. The attack left more than 100 people dead and scores injured.
Mumbere was charged with murder, terrorism, treason, malicious damage to
property, attempted murder and aggravated robbery. His subjects attacked
several Police establishments during the unrest.
Prior to the attack, security officers alleged that the palace was a
training ground for militants who planned on destabilising the country.
Mumbere had earlier been told to disband the guards in vain.
In 2018, he was committed to the International Crimes Division of the
High Court in Kololo, by the Jinja High Court to face the charges. He
was later granted bail, but his movements were restricted to Kampala,
Wakiso and Mukono districts.
The group comprising 218 suspects were implicated in the double murder
of Police constables Saverio Ochema and Simon Peter Apille. They were
also accused of attempting to murder detective Police constables
Polycarp Ojoko, Benon Byaki, Francisco Nsimaki and Assistant Inspector
of Police Denis Ahebwa According to the state, Mumbere and his subjects
murdered Police constable Godfrey Kasimba attached to the defunct Field Force Unit.
Reactions from different people
Moses Baluku, a resident of Kisinga sub-county, said he never thought he would see his king again.
He said with the return of the king, Rwenzururu will raise again and all the cultural and economic strategies will be implemented.
Elizabeth Kabugho, 60, a resident of Bugoye sub-county, said the return of the king had restored her hope.“My worry has always been dying before seeing him again,” she noted.
Sowedi Kitanywa, the Busongora North MP, urged the subjects of Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu to embrace the five pillar points on which the re-branded Rwenzururu kingdom has set its foundation.
The pillars include reconciliation, peace, unity, social-economic transformation and mindset change to foster effective development of the king and his subjects.
Ferigo Kambale, the Kasese Municipality MP, asked people to embrace the Parish Development Model to eradicate poverty in the community.
Gideon Thembo Mujungu, the Busongora South MP, told people to fight discrimination tendencies that had started growing among the Bakonzo and other tribes in Kasese.
“Learn to live with people from other ethnic groups. Work together to attain development,” Mujungu said.
Florence Kabugho, the Kaseses District Woman MP, called for a special consideration of widows who lost their husbands in the 2016 clashes and those arrested in that period.
Jackson Nzerebende, the bishop emeritus of South Rwenzori Diocese, and Francis Aquirinus Kibira, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kasese, both prayed for the king and called for peace and stability in the kingdom.
The state minister for gender and culture, Peace Mutuuzo, who represented the Government, cautioned politicians not to involve themselves in the matters of the kingdom, adding that the Government would provide security, construct a palace and provide cars for Mumbere.
Charges were dropped
In June 2023, after alleged behind the scenes intense negotiations between the president and Mumbere, the King accepted to be pardoned through amnesty. Thus the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Jane Frances Abodo, withdrew all charges against Mumbere and his subjects except Johnson Thembo Kitsumbire his Prime minister currently out on bail, who said he couldn’t fore sake his integrity by pleading guilty for crimes he didn’t commit. Apparently what is not clear is whether the DPP will continue to prosecute Kisumbire alone.
The charges were before the International Crimes Division of the High Court, which was presided over by Lady Justice Alice Komuhangi Khaukha.
The principal state attorney, Lillian Omara, informed the court that the DPP had lost interest in the case and was withdrawing charges against the accused persons.