The killing of hundreds of people in Kasese, in south western Uganda over the weekend has attracted local and international condemnation with more voices calling for an independent investigation into the killings.
Although the Police Spokesperson Andrew Felix Kawesi has maintained that only 62 people died when a joint force of the UPDF and Police opened fire on what they called armed guards of the Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere, the claims have been rubbished by a number of MPs from Kasese.
Kawesi said that the attack on Mumbere’s Palace were a reaction to attacks by Omusinga’s guards on different police stations in which some 14 officers were killed. He said the Police will not spare anyone who picks arms to kill members of security forces.
Robert Centenary, the area MP where the fighting took place, has blamed the Police and the army for ‘deliberately massacring innocent people’.
Forum for Democratic Change President Gen. Mugisha Muntu strongly condemned the Kasese killings. Muntu said: “If this regime leader can treat a leader of over a million people like this, what will happen to the common man?, Today its a cultural leader, next may be any other leader like religious leader,” Gen. Muntu said.
Pictures of half-naked women who were paraded in the Palace as well as bodies of men whose hands had been tied from behind has led many to conclude that the army committed grave crimes.
Atkins Katusabe, the Member of Parliament for Bukonzo County rubbished Kawesi’s statement as a mere hoax. “This is a hoax created by Police. I wonder Kaweesi who was in Kampala could say that there was resistance but the fact is there was no resistance because me I was among the legislators who were in the negotiations with Omumbere in the palace and the way how this attack was executed was a planned operation”
William Nzoghu and Leader of Opposition Winifred Kiiza, the Omusinga had accepted to let his guards into police hands and they had agreed to disarm when the army started firing randomly at whoever they saw in the palace.
Kiiza said that they had communicated Mumbere’s positive position to the commander Brig. Peter Elwalu and requested for the trucks but this was all in vain.
Katusabe said: “At 13 hours the President’s ultimatum expired and as we were still in negotiations, army and police attacked and broke through the gate with mambas and gunfire. This was the real massacre I will never forget because the guards had no weapon only they were waiting for the trucks and they were innocent indeed, soldiers ordered to get out immediately as the shooting continued. Where was resistance that didn’t see me who was on the ground that Kaweesi who was in Kampala saw?.”
New York-based Human Rights Watch, a human rights advocacy group has reiterated its call to the government to investigate cause of bloody classes in Rwenzori sub-region.
“All those arrested should be brought before a court of law within 48 hours or released, and everyone, including government troops and their commanders, should face investigations into their conduct that led to the deaths,” said HRW.