- Always there. During the past quarter century, Daily Monitor has been at the forefront of telling the Ugandan story. We have reported on the events that matter, no matter who may have wanted to cover it up. For the 20th instalment in our ongoing series of Monitor’s top 25 stories, Stephen Kafeero adopts a slightly different approach to review some key events and stories that do not independently feature in our top 25 stories.
Kabaka Ronald Mutebi coronation July 31, 1993
The coronation of Ronald Muwenda Mutebi as Buganda Kingdom’s 36th king was one of the first major events this newspaper, then just a year old, covered. The road to the coronation had been on years before even The Monitor, now Daily Monitor, founders thought of starting this company. President Museveni largely rode on the promise to restore the kingdom of Buganda and enable the installation of Mr Mutebi as Kabaka to secure the backing of the Baganda for his war in Luwero against the Milton Obote 11 government. Obote had during his first government bombed Buganda’s Mengo palace in 1966, abolished traditional institutions and confiscated the kingdom’s properties.
Atiak massacres - April 20, 1995
The Monitor was already covering the war, when one of its most atrocious episodes took place. On April 20, 1995, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels of Joseph Kony raided Atiak Trading Centre in Amuru District and killed more than 300 people. The LRA commander reportedly in charge was then Kony’s second in command Vincent Otti. He is reported to have ordered rebels in his command to round up men, women, students and young children to a nearby bush. They were then separated and the 300 or more were shot and killed.
Promulgation of Constitution – October 8, 1995
The promulgation of the 1995 Constitution offered hope for a better Uganda 10 years after the guns had gone silent in most parts of the country. Uganda’s post-1966 history had, to say the least, been turbulent and here was a document debated and agreed on by delegates from across the country to put Uganda on a democratic path. It was the first attempt to include all Ugandans in the Constitution making process after the independence Constitution that was made in London and the Obote Constitutions of 1966 and 1967. There would be numerous quarrels over the 1995 Constitution, however, with a number of controversial amendments and accusations that Mr Museveni is looking to rewrite it.
Museveni sworn in May 12, 1996
President Museveni had been in power for 10 years since deposing the Tito Okello Lutwa government in 1986 when Uganda for the first time held presidential elections. The country had last seen something close to a democratic process to choose its leaders in 1980. The new crop of leaders that had captured power in 1986 had promised so much to the country. Mr Museveni was declared winner, beating Paul Ssemogerere, his closest rival. The Monitor, founded six years after Mr Museveni came to power, stood as the single most independent voice. Mr Museveni would go on to win disputed elections in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016.
Kichwamba massacre – June 8, 1998
One of the deadliest and most tragic memories of the war between government forces and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was the raid on the Uganda Technical College Kichwamba in Kabarole District. More than 80 students were burnt to death in three dormitories. One hundred more were abducted. Daily Monitor reported this sad episode, which was blamed on the then marauding Allied Democratic Forces rebels.
Kabaka Mutebi weds — August 27 1999
Between August 27 and 29, 1999, The Monitor dedicated at least 30 pages to the coverage of the wedding of Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II and Nabagereka Sylvia Nagginda. Many superlatives such as the “wedding of the century” were used to describe the occasion held at Saint Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe. On both August 27 and 28, the wedding was The Monitor’s cover story.
Kanungu inferno - March 17, 2000
Almost two decades later, the mention of the Kanungu inferno or massacre sends chills down the spine of those who either survived or witnessed it. More than 1,000 people perished in a church building in Kanungu after what is believed to have been a well-planned move by cult leaders who had duped their followers that the world was coming to an end on December 31, 1999. They burnt the thousands to death when that did not happen.
Besigye emerges - October 28, 2000
In 1999, Dr Besigye issued a dossier in which he accused the Movement system he had been serving of being, among other things, undemocratic, dishonest and corrupt. The dossier landed him in trouble with the authorities but ended in a compromise when he was finally allowed to retire from the army. He had a big one coming. Late in October 2000, Dr Besigye announced he would run for President in a press statement. He would shortly after tell Sunday Monitor that his announcement was prompted by information about his impending arrest. Dr Besigye has since contested four times against the same man, President Museveni, who he first sought to dislodge more than 17 years ago.
Walk to Work protests
In April 2011, Opposition leader Kizza Besigye and other Opposition politicians led what is now famously known as the Walk to Work protests as a reaction to the high cost of living. The protests took place following presidential elections in February 2011 in which President Museveni was announced winner. The State quelled the protests using tear gas and arresting the leaders. In separate incidents, Dr Besigye was shot in the right arm by a rubber bullet while in another the window of his car was smashed by a policeman using a pistol before the same officer—Gilbert Arinaitwe Bwana—dousing the interior of the car with pepper spray and dragging out a blind Dr Besigye to a police car. At least five people were killed during the protests and hundreds arrested.
Barlonyo Massacre - February 21, 2004
The Barlonyo Massacre happened almost 10 years after the Atiak killings, although in a tragically similar theatre and with the same protagonists. In less than three hours more than 300 people were killed and an unknown number abducted. Majority were burnt alive or hacked with machetes.
Kayunga/Buganda riots - September 10, 2009
The Kayunga or Buganda riots incident remains the single biggest public fallout between the central government and Buganda Kingdom since the 1966 crisis. It also threatened to permanently reverse the relationship the two entities developed since the restoration of the Kingdoms in 1992.
Prior to the riots, Kabaka Ronald Mwenda Mutebi was stopped from touring parts of his kingdom, angering his subjects who took to the streets and demonstrated in major towns located in Buganda, including the capital Kampala. Officially 27 people were reported killed by gunfire, although human rights groups and other sources put the number far higher. Almost a decade later, no formal report of what actually happened has been issued.
Kasubi tombs burnt - March 16, 2010
Daily Monitor was one of the many media organisations and individuals that rushed to the scene when the Kasubi tombs, the burial place of Buganda’s kings, were destroyed by fire. The cause of the fire remains unknown despite investigations and promises of a report by both government and Buganda Kingdom. Daily Monitor did extensive coverage of the aftermath, including covering when the President Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Muwenda visited the scene separately on the same day. The relationship between the Buganda Kingdom leadership based at Mengo and the central government were at the time said to be at their lowest. So it was not surprising when Kingdom loyalists opposed and rioted during Mr Museveni’s visit. Security forces shot and killed a number, while the military and police also clashed with rioters in Kampala City. President Museveni defended his government over the matter, terming as “wicked and slanderous lies” the allegation that government could have had a hand in the same.
July 7, 2010 bombings
At least 74 people were killed in the twin bombings that ripped through Kampala City on July 11, 2010. The Somali Islamist movement al-Shabaab took credit for the bombings that also left more than 80 people injured.
The bombings, one at Ethiopian Village Restaurant and two at Kyadondo Rugby Club twenty minutes later, targeted crowds watching the World Cup soccer final between Spain and the Netherlands. Majority of the dead were Ugandans. American, Indian, Irish, Ethiopian, Eritrean and Congolese citizens were also killed.
Attack on King Mumbere’s palace - November 26, 2016
The Kasese attacks or massacre reached a climax on November 26, 2016 when police raided the Rwenzururu kingdom palace, killing at least eight Rwenzururu royal guards and arresting others. Government said the raid was in response to attacks on police posts in the region allegedly perpetrated by the royal guards.
The next day, on November 27, 2016, police backed by the military stormed the Rwenzururu Kingdom’s Buhikira Palace, leading to the death of more than 100 people.
King Mumbere was subsequently arrested and charged with murder, terrorism, aggravated robbery and attempted murder. At least 138 kingdom loyalists face charges related to the attacks. Human Rights Watch and other rights organisations have called for an independent international inquiry into the bloodbath.