Kasese, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | National Resistance Movement-NRM party leaders and supporters in Kasese district used the 36th NRA/NRM liberation day celebrations to call for the freedom of the Rwenzururu cultural leader, Charles Wesley Mumbere.
They argue that NRM can only consolidate its current political gains in Kasese district by freeing their cultural leader and royal guards. This came up during a thanksgiving service held by the party leaders in Kidodo cell of Kasese municipality for the achievements the party has made since the 2021 general elections.
The party also received 91 defectors from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party, just a month after more than 200 members from various opposition parties joined the ruling party. Mumbere and his royal guards were arrested during a joint police and military raid on his palace in 2016.
They were arraigned in the high court on a string of charges including murder, attempted murder, aggravated robbery, terrorism, and treason, and remanded to various prisons. Despite security bail in 2017, the high court confined Mumbere to Kampala and Wakiso districts. As a result, the cultural leader is stuck in his home in Muyenga Kampala.
Ferigo Kamable, the Kasese Municipality MP says there is unequivocal demand from the kingdom subjects for the government to pardon Mumbere and his co-accused. He says NRM as a party, has made strong strides in the last year, but this can be watered down by opposing forces if Mumbere is not released.
Johnson Kamara Kalyasa, the acting Kasese district NRM party chairperson who also doubles as the publicity secretary, says that as party leaders, they agreed that it’s high time to negotiate with the head of state to pave for Omusinga’s return.
Bashir Bwambale, a former FDC member believes the continued restrictions on Mumbere and detention of royal guards remain the only sealable issue for the opposition in the district to maintain its relevancy.
He says by the president practicing an act of forgiveness and extending an olive branch to all the royal guards, he will psychologically attract love from the royal subjects.
The Busongora North MP, Sowedi Kitanywa said as long as the government remains silent on their demands to have Mumbere freed, his subjects will remain unhappy.
Jafari Kighutiya, a member of FDC thinks there is nothing people of Kasese should be jubilating about when their cultural leader has spent more than five years without stepping into his kingdom. He also demands that the court should relax the stringent bail conditions imposed on Mumbere.
Hajjati Faridah Kaganda, the chairperson Kasese District NRM women’s league says that people in the district have started to appreciate the contribution of the party but the issues of the cultural institution remain very salient and need consideration.
In the lead-up to the 2021 elections, the high court released 132 royal guards. The party went on to win three parliamentary seats from the six constituencies initially dominated by FDC, the LCV seat, and the majority of lower local government seats.
NRM members want the court to give bail to the remaining 78 royals guards who are still in incarceration.