The Council of Presidents (COP) and The Elders’ Forum have been engaged within the Rwenzori sub-region specifically within the Kasese conflict since March 2016. To this effect, they have held a number of dialogue meetings with key actors on the same and agreed on a strategy for sustainably transforming the conflict in the region.
Following the storming of the Omusinga’s palace that led to the death of over 100 people, the COP paid a solidarity visit to Kasese to pray and commiserate with the people and the families that lost their dear ones. After this visit, it was agreed that the COP would continue pursuing peaceful means of resolving that conflict.
Since the release of the Omusinga on bail on February, 6th 2017, the religious leaders have been desirous to pay a pastoral visit to the Omusinga to pray with him and his family at his palace in Muyenga, one of the Kampala suburbs.
Recently when the Secretary General visited Kasese to assess and mobilize the senior religious leaders in the region to stay engaged with advocacy for pursing peace and reconciliation, the religious leaders requested for the possibility of visiting the Omusinga especially during this Lent season.
The Secretary General sought guidance from the director of police operations, Assistant General of Police, Asuman Mugyeni and was advised that it was only the courts of law that could grant permission to see the Omusinga.
Subsequently, we formally wrote to the Omusinga’s lawyer, Counsel Caleb Alaka, for guidance who came back to us with good news that our request had been granted for Friday, 7th April, 2017, between 9am and 12 o’clock.
Unfortunately, when the religious leaders arrived at the palace, they were blocked on ground that they had not sought permission from the Divisional Police Commissioner (DPC) of Muyenga. We had not followed the procedure of notifying the DPC three days before the visit.
We deeply regret this incidence of barring spiritual leaders from accessing the king. The Omusinga is one of those people that we felt needed pastoral care this Lent season.
While we reflect on the incident, the senior religious leaders from Kasese have requested for a second chance to pray and fellowship with the Omusinga and his family.
I have since written to the lawyer to serve us with the written permission from the courts of law which I will share with you as soon as it is available.
Under these circumstances, I wish to sincerely apologize on our part for the procedures that may not have been followed and for the inconveniences encountered by the religious leaders.
However we should remember that we are the conscience of the nation. We can never give up on our role and mandate. We should stand and be counted as people who stood for justice, peace and reconciliation in this country.
For God and my Country
Inter-Religious Council of Uganda
FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS