Heavy Police, UPDF deployment in Kasese ahead of palace raid anniversary

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There is heavy deployment of army personnel and police in Kasese town as residents remember the death of more than 100 people in clashes between state security agencies and royal guards at the Kingdom of Rwenzururu, last year.

Today, November 26, will mark exactly one year since the raid on the palace which climaxed with the arrest of the Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere and 161 others.

The raid, on November 26 and 27, was carried out by the Uganda People's Defence Forces- UPDF under the command of the then Second Division Commander, Brigadier Peter Elwelu.

Just over two months after the attack, Elwelu was promoted to Major General and appointed Land Forces commander.

The attack came after the Rwenzururu King refused to hand over the guards whom the army accused of engaging in clandestine activities.

The group was later arraigned before court in Jinja facing 41 counts of treason, terrorism, murder, attempted murder, robbery and malicious damage to property.

Although government put the death toll from the clashes at 103 people, a report by Human rights Watch indicates that at least 55 people, including 14 police officers, were killed on November 26, and that more than 100 people were killed by joint security forces during the attack on the Rwenzururu Palace compound on November 27.

As the town prepares to remember the lives of the departed, residents woke up to the sight of several armed UPDF soldiers and police officers patrolling the streets.

Heavy deployment is visible on Crescent Street, Speke and in the centre of the municipality.

However, Lt. Favourite Rugumayo, the Public Relations Officer of the Kasese based UPDF 309 Brigade said that the deployment is normal.

He added that the deployment was informed by reports that area leaders were mobilizing residents for a demonstration over the next two days.

Faith Mbahimba, a trader in Kasese market said that the sight of armed soldiers and police brings back memories of last year's attacks.

She said that there is no need for such deployment since the area is now calm.

Mbahimba added that residents show be allowed to remember the souls of their departed relatives.

Moses Baluku, the coordinator of a non-government organisation Kasese Concerned Citizens said that they plan to hold a peaceful demonstration to remember those killed in the palace attack.

Baluku explained that all people who lost their relatives will wear black as a sign of mourning.

However Lt. Col James Mwesige, the Resident District Commissioner Kasese and head of security, said that he has not been informed of any demonstration.

Mumbere and several of his officials have since November last year never set foot in Kasese, as they are restricted to stay within Kampala as part of their bail conditions.

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