Kasese- The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen Kale Kayihura, has described the killing of 11 Basongora pastoralists by attackers believed to be Bakonzo as a genocidal killing.
“This is not a rebellion as people are saying, but a massacre like the Interahamwe killing that happened in Rwanda (during the 1994 genocide),” Gen Kayihura stated yesterday.
During the 100-days of terror in Rwanda, the Interahamwe killed Tutsis and moderate Hutus until the RPA captured power and restored sanity.
The IGP was speaking at Ibuga camp in Hima parish, Kichwamba Sub-county, during the burial of two of the 11 Basongora tribes’ mates who were hacked to death at the weekend in tribal clashes with their nemesis Bakonzo. The bodies of other victims were claimed by relatives and buried at family grounds.
During the burial, the Basongora pastoralists criticised the police chief for failure to respond to the problem which has been simmering for some time. They said if the police had listened to their pleas, the weekend clashes could have been averted.
Basongora Development Trust chairperson Wilson Okali demanded that the pastoralists are trained and armed to defend themselves in future. Mr Okali claimed that his people are tired of police and the army’s inaction and harassment that they undergo when they respond to the crisis like the one of the weekend.
Mr Okali told the IGP that when they were attacked at 2pm, the first police to reach the area came at 7:30pm. They said on arrival, the police beat them and dumped them into cells “for trying to rescue our people”.
“Since 2004, we have been getting attacks from the Bakonzo but we have failed to get audience from you since we have bounced many times at your office,” Mr Okali said, demanding for assurances from the police if they will be safe in their homes rather than the displaced people’s camps that the Uganda Red Cross was establishing in the area.
The Kasese Resident District Commissioner, Maj James Mwesigye, district police chief Micheal Sabilla Musani and Busongora South MP Boaz Kafuda attended.
The MP for Busongora North, where the incident happened and burial took place, Mr William Nzoghu, was absent as were other MPs from Kasese District.
Mr Okali listed villages that are in need of urgent security as; Ibuga, Kayanja II, Kigando, Nsinungi and Nyakatonzi. As one of the proposals for lasting peace, the Basongora demanded for the creation of their own district, a cultural institution, security and arrest of district leaders who are allegedly fuelling the conflict.
The Kasese District chairperson, Rtd Lt Col Dura Mawa Muhindo, was chased away by angry mourners from the burial. They accused him of not caring for their plight, having travelled to Bundibugyo to commiserate with the victims in the neighbouring district other his voters first.
When the emcee asked Lt Col Muhindo to make his eulogy, residents shouted him down, saying he had no moral authority to speak to them. They demanded that he leaves the burial site, blaming him for allegedly making “sentimental statements” about them.
“We don’t want you here. You are part of the problem. We have been here since the attack and you were in Bundibugyo with your clans-mates,” a resident said.
“You said the minorities cannot be allowed to own anything. Stay away. Let’s solve our own problems,” another added.
The agitated mourners tried to pelt the chairman with stones and to smash his vehicle, but a combined force of police and army shielded him as he drove away.
In his response to their demands, the IGP promised to train the sons and daughters of the Basongora so that they provide with themselves security. “Nobody should go to the camps. Return to your homes. I am here for some time to provide you with security. I am going to arrest whoever will be named in the attack,” Gen Kayihura said as the mourners clapped.
Gen Kayihura asked residents with information that can lead to the arrest of the attackers to give it to the police so as to enrich their investigations and expedite the arrests and prosecution. The IGP donated Shs1 million to each of the families that lost a person in the tribal clashes.
Later the IGP, in the company of top security officials in the district, toured the affected areas. These included Biganda, Ibuga and Nsinungi villages, all in Hima Parish on the slopes of Mountain Rwenzori.
By Monday evening, the IGP was expected to meet five top leaders of the Basongora to draw up a plan with the district leadership that would end the simmering rivalry between the two tribes in the mountainous district.