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Is Winnie Kiiza distress call linked to ICC intention to investigate Kasese massacre?

Kasese Woman MP and former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza on Sunday posted on her Facebook page that heavily armed men had been seen staking her country home in Kiburura, Kasese District, "waiting to shoot her husband dead."

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SECURITY | Former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza Sunday evening sounded out a distress call, saying heavily armed men have been staking out her homes with intent to kill her husband.

The Kasese Woman MP is married to former Bukhonzo East legislator Yokasi Bihande Bwambale, who Monday morning confirmed they were safe and that the armed men had disappeared into the night after the social media post.

Last evening, Kiiza said that, as well as her home in Kampala, the country home in Kiburara in the western district of Kasese was being staked out by armed men.

The alarm, raised on her Facebook page, said she was tipped by concerned neighbours about the presence of men two armed men staking out her country home in Kiburara on Friday night.

“Two armed men spent Friday night in my compound in Kasese, waiting for my husband to come home and they shoot him. Some friend of ours tipped us and he did not go home that Friday night,” Kiiza said.

“As I am posting this message, again, nine armed men in military uniform have sorounded our house again in Kiburara, Kasese. All of them armed to the teeth with machine guns and RPGs.”

Kiiza was not available for a comment and did not indicate in her post the possible motives for the unusual stakeout, but sources close to her said they were aware of the issues and that it was not a false alarm.

This news website could not immediately reach Defence spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire or his counterpart at Uganda Police Force Emilian Kayima for a comment on the legislator’s claims.

The Kasese Woman MP and her husband are both Opposition Forum for Democratic Change party members. But Bwambale, who was in 2015 thrown out of Parliament and ordered to refund all monies he had earned while representing Bukhonzo East constituency in Parliament, did not return to the August House.

Neither Kiiza nor her aide divulged the possible motives for why they thought armed men were targeting Bwambale whose political fortunes have dipped since the Constitutional Court threw him out of Parliament.

However, Kiiza has recently been more politically active around Kyaddondo East legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, whose political star is shining brightest at the moment.

Kiiza was at hand to receive Bobi WIne from detention last month when he was granted bail following his arrest by the military over altercation with President Museveni’s guards in Arua.

On Thursday, she was by Bobi Wine’s side all the way from the US where he had gone for further medical management.

After returning with Bobi Wine, Kiiza posted on her Facebook page calling on Ugandans to keep up the struggle against the government of Yoweri Museveni, saying she strongly believed that there will be victory in the struggle.

“However, allow me to point out the fact that one can find peace amidst the storm that threaten us, so we shall not relent. Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little,” she said in a Facebook post.

Kiiza’s closeness to Bobi Wine, at a time the regime is not leaving anything to chance as far as the youthful political firebrand is concerned could be one of the reasons she is being watched closely, a source familiar with security matters said.

“I don’t think soldiers in uniform can show up at her home and allow themselves be seen by neighbours and all that if they really had a sinister motive against Kiiza or any of her family member,” the source said, preferring anonymity in order to speak freely.

Kasese massacre and the ICC probe

Another source suggested that Kiiza was just being treated to a form of ‘gunboat diplomacy’ where a threat to her life or those around her is used to intimidate her.

This, the source explained, would be related to the issues at The Hague after the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, confirmed that her office had indeed received a petition, requesting for investigations into the Kasese massacre of November 2016.

During the 2016 attack on the Rwenzururu Royal Palace by UPDF soldiers and police officers under the command of Maj Gen Peter Elwelu,at least 100 civilians and royal guards were killed and Rwenzururu king, Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere was arrested.

The State said it had information that “wrong elements” had taken refuge in the palace.

Daily Monitor reported on Saturday that Bensouda had revealed that the “situation desk” at the Hague-based court has since taken over the Kasese complaint and that it is being investigated.

The newspaper said the ICC chief prosecutor had committed that once the Kasese investigations were done, her office would communicate the findings to the concerned petitioners.

In November 2016, a group of Members of Parliament from the Rwenzori sub-region petitioned ICC to investigate the human rights violation in respect to the Kasese massacre.

The petition was against President Museveni in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the armed forces — he is accused of having directly given the orders — Gen Elwelu and Asuman Mugenyi, a top police officer who led the police wing of the force during the killings.

“Brig Elwelu kept on saying he was acting on the orders of the commander-in-chief who is President Museveni, and Deputy Inspector General of Police Mugenyi, who physically commanded the bloody operation,” Kiiza said while announcing that her group had petitioned the ICC in 2016.

Kiiza, a source said, is silently considered by the State as a witness by virtue of her having access to privileged information on the Kasese massacre.

In her distress post, MP Kiiza said that the armed stakeout of her Kiburara home was no different from the situation around her Kampala residence in the last few weeks.

“Whoever they are after, God is watching. And whoever is in charge of this scheme, it must be put on record that I and my family are Ugandan citizens who are entitled to all citizenry rights. I don’t know whether my husband will be alive by morning,” she said.

The legislator’s alarm comes at a time there is increased security fears in the country after a top police officer, Mohammed Kirumira, was gunned down just two months after MP Ibrahim Abiriga was shot dead in June.

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