Police in western Uganda have arrested the king of Rwenzururu over clashes between officers and militia which have left at least 55 people dead.
This happened after President Yoweri Museveni’s phone conversation with King Charles Wesley Mumbere of the Rwenzururu kingdom on Sunday morning where he ordered him to disband the guards, who are believed to be part of a militia allegedly agitating for the creation of an independent republic straddling Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Charles Wesley Mumbere is accused of inciting violence after militiamen reportedly attacked a police post in his hometown of Kasese.
Security forces stormed his palace amid claims he was harbouring fighters. The king has denied any involvement.
At least 14 police officers and 41 militants have died in the clashes.
A Ugandan government spokesman accused the militia of seeking to break away from Uganda.
“These militiamen have set up camps in the Rwenzori mountains from where they train and come to attack government installations,” Shaban Bantariza said.
Police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi said the attackers were fighting to create a new republic on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Several other people were also arrested when the security forces stormed the king’s palace on Sunday, he confirmed
Charles Wesley Mumbere has denied any connections with the militia. His Bakonzo community on the border with the DR Congo has long been at loggerheads with the dominant Toro kingdom in the region.
Years of clashes ended in 1982 with an agreement for more local autonomy and President Yoweri Museveni officially recognised the kingdom in 2009, but tensions have continued to simmer.
Between February and March this year, more than 50 people were killed in clashes between security forces and rebels, according to police figures.