The dialogue between government and Rwenzururu Kingdom commenced on November 27 last year, exactly a year after a joint force of the army and police raided King Charles Wesley Mumbere’s Buhikira palace in Kasese Town.
King Mumbere was arrested together with more than 200 kingdom loyalists after the assault that left more than 100 people dead.
He was accused of recruiting a militia group that allegedly caused unrest in the Rwenzori Sub-region.
After Mumbere, who is facing charges of treason, terrorism and murder, was granted bail in February 2017, dialogue was initiated between the cultural institution and the central government.
However, a consensus would only be reached in November, several months later.
The government and the kingdom each named a five-member team to participate in the talks chaired by Dr Ambrose Agona, the executive director of National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO), which reported to the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
The government team headed by Prof Tarsis Kabwegere included Lt Gen Wilson Mbadi, the deputy Chief of Defence Forces; Maj James Nkojo from Operation Wealth Creation; Mr Chris Kaijuka, a businessman; and Ms Sarah Kagingo, a communications practitioner.
The kingdom team headed by Queen Agnes Ithungu Asiimawe included Mr Edwin Kugonza, the vice chairman of Prime Ministerial Commission; Mr Enock Muhindo, the speaker of the Kingdom parliament; Ms Juliet Best Bakoko, the minister of education; and Mr Alfred Makasi, the attorney general.
Yesterday, Dr Agona confirmed to us that the negotiating team held 15 meetings between November last year and now.
He said the final draft of the report has been concluded.
“The talks have been going on very well and there is a draft report that will be submitted to the prime minister,” Dr Agona said. Dr Agona also said there are recommendations agreed upon that will see the relationship between the government and the cultural institution renewed.
Recent reports indicated that the talks had hit a snag because the government team refused to yield to the demands of Mumbere to return to his kingdom and also lifting restrictions on his visitors.
King Mumbere’s 52nd coronation anniversary passed quietly yesterday because he could not be allowed to travel to Kasese to preside over it.
His movements are restricted to Kampala, Jinja and Wakiso districts according to the bail terms.
But Dr Agona refuted the allegations, saying the negotiating team among other terms of reference, was not to interfere with the process of court.
“These are two things going on in parallel. We all want the law to take its course at the same time building peace in the region. We only ask court to expedite the process,” Dr Agona said.
Mr Edwin Kugonza, who is part of the negotiation team and vice chairman of the Prime Ministerial Commission which oversees the administration of the kingdom, declined to comment on the status of the talks.