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Buganda arrests bring back 1966 memories

By Steven Kibuuka

July 18, 2008 was the day when Buganda Kingdom tested the wrath of  government as its  minister of information and cabinet affairs Charles Peter Mayiga, his deputy Medard Lubega, and Ms Betty Nambooze, who heads the kingdoms committee set up to campaign against proposed changes to the 1998 Land Act were arrested.

Was this a return of the 1966 crisis when the central government squared off with monarchist Mengo culminating in the abolition of kingdoms?

After their arrest, Inspector General of Police Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura alleged that the trio had been arrested in connection with terrorism, inciting violence, promoting sectarianism and war, among several charges.

When negotiations to have them freed hit a deadlock, the Mengo officials were bundled on pick-up trucks and driven across western Uganda  purportedly to be taken to the scene of crime and identification parades. They were briefly released at Kyenjojo police station before being re-arrested again.

After a week in detention, two of the three Buganda Kingdom officials were on July 25 charged with sedition and freed on bail at the Nakawa chief magistrates court. The third official, Mayiga, was not charged but was released on police bond at Jinja Road Police Station. Since then to date, Mayiga has been reporting to Police but no case has been preferred against him. The case of Segona and Nambooze has also since stalled and the tension between government and Mengo has ebbed.

Just two months after arrest of his ministers, the Kabaka himself was denied access to Buruuli county [Nakasongola] on October 7 as the army and police armed with riffles and tear gas blocked the route to Nakasongo were he was travelling to celebrate the kingdoms 46th independence anniversary.

Internal Affairs Minister Ruhakana Rugunda offered to explain governments action In view of the imminent security threats on the ground and the consequent chaos that is likely to occur in Nakasongola, government has decided to disallow the planned Bulungi Bwansi (community service) function and other related activities at Nakasongola district headquarters and surrounding areas.

In view of this, the government strongly advised that the planned Bulungi Bwansi and related functions in Nakasongola be postponed and invited the Katikkiro to work with the government and other stakeholders to find a decisive and lasting solution to the undercurrent of violence that seems to be characterising the relations between Buganda Kingdom on one hand and Baluuri Banyara Cultural Institution on the other, he added.

Rugunda went on to say that in spite of the advice, the Kabaka had gone ahead with the tour, prompting government action.

Buganda had come full-circle!

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