62 die as Uganda moves against tribal king

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

THE death toll from a week­end of fight­ing in western Uganda has risen to 62 af­ter clashes be­tween po­lice and a mili­tia loyal to a tribal king, ac­cord­ing to re­gional po­lice. An ini­tial 55 deaths had been re­ported on Sun­day. “So far we man­aged to kill 46 of the royal guards and we also ar­rested 139 (guards),” re­gional po­lice spokesman Mansur Suwed said.

He said the num­ber of po­lice killed had risen to 16 from 14 af­ter two of­fi­cers died from their wounds.

Po­lice de­tained King Charles Wes­ley Mum­bere on Sun­day and ac­cused his sup­port­ers of try­ing to cre­ate a new state in the area near the bor­der with Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo.

Mum­bere has dis­tanced him­self from the cause. How­ever, the au­thor­i­ties ac­cuse his royal guards of train­ing in the moun­tains along­side sep­a­ratist mili­tia forces to at­tack govern­ment in­stal­la­tions.

“The sit­u­a­tion is volatile. Sev­eral of our guards have been killed af­ter the govern­ment gave an or­der to dis­band the royal guards im­me­di­ately which is not easy,” Clarence Bwambale, Rwen­zu­ruru king­dom spokesman, said from the palace where he and the king were, as heavy shoot­ing echoed in the back­ground.

“The king spoke to the pres­i­dent [Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni] this morn­ing and he gave him two hours to dis­band the royal guards, which is im­pos­si­ble. Now the army and po­lice have raided the palace and at­tacked the royal guards” he said, with a large ex­plo­sion heard in the back­ground.

“We have told the govern­ment the king­dom is not in­volved in the cre­ation of Yi­ira repub­lic, which wants to break away [from Uganda], and that the royal guards are not in­volved.”

Lo­cal me­dia re­ported that Ugan­dan jour­nal­ist Joy Doreen Bi­ira, who works for neigh­bour­ing Kenya’s KTN news or­gan­i­sa­tion, was ar­rested in the re­gion on Sun­day and that her where­abouts were un­known.

Ear­lier this year Pres­i­dent Mu­sev­eni ruled out any form of se­ces­sion in the Rwen­zori re­gion.

He told the Daily Mon­i­tor news­pa­per: “I want to state cat­e­gor­i­cally that Uganda will not lose even a piece of her land to the cre­ation of the so-called Yi­ira repub­lic.”

The Rwen­zu­ruru king­dom is a tra­di­tional monar­chy based near the Rwen­zori moun­tains which strad­dle Uganda and the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC), and its mem­bers are mainly the Bakonzo peo­ple — also found in both coun­tries.

The monar­chy started out as a sep­a­ratist move­ment of the same name when the Bakonzo de­clared their own king­dom in 1962.

The move led to years of blood­shed un­til a set­tle­ment was reached in 1982 in which the move­ment laid down arms in re­turn for a de­gree of lo­cal au­ton­omy. Mu­sev­eni of­fi­cially recog­nised the king­dom in 2009. How­ever, un­rest has con­tin­ued to sim­mer in the com­plex eth­nic and po­lit­i­cal con­flict, as many in the re­gion still feel marginalised by au­thor­i­ties in dis­tant Kam­pala.

Some in Uganda, with the sup­port of their fel­low Bakonzo in the DRC, have taken up arms and are ag­i­tat­ing for the cre­ation of the Yi­ira Repub­lic which would cover ter­ri­tory in Uganda and part of North Kivu in the DRC. — Al Jazeera

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