Friday 26 May 2017

Ugandan gov't dismisses human rights report on separatist killings

Ugandan gov't dismisses human rights report on separatist killings
(Xinhuanet 03/16/17)
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo

The Ugandan government on Wednesday dismissed a human rights report that called for an independent inquiry into the clashes between government forces and a tribal group in Rwenzori region in the western part of the country.

New York headquartered Human Rights Watch in its report issued on Wednesday said the clashes late last year left over 150 people dead, including 15 children.

The organization called for an independent, impartial fact-finding mission with international expertise into the killings.

According to the government's statement, government troops clashed with a separatist tribal group in Kasese district in November last year, leaving 103 people dead and arresting over 180 people including a local king.

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the Human Rights Watch report has several inconsistencies and flaws.

"The report lacks depth, especially on the genesis of the near break down of law and order, which almost plunged the Rwenzori Sub Region into anarchy. It deliberately omits the incidents that led to the security forces to respond, not only to defend themselves but also to maintain law and order," he said.

He noted that government figures show that 103 people died in the clashes, not the Human Rights Watch figure of over 150 people.

"Our record establishes that a total of 103 deaths were registered. Out of these, 91 were male and 12 female, 16 of whom were police officers. A total of 51 bodies were unclaimed and were subsequently buried in a public cemetery in Kasese," Ofwono said.

The clashes were between President Yoweri Museveni's forces and that of Charles Wesley Mumbere, king of a tiny mountain kingdom known as the Rwenzururu, who has been accused of arming his militia to seek independence.

The king was charged with treason in December, but was released on bail in February.

The region of Kasese has been the hotbed of opposition to the Ugandan government for decades. The people there complain they have long been marginalized by Kampala.

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