One Ugandan King, Charles Mumbere, has been charged with murder following the unfortunate death of over 16 Ugandan policemen who lost their lives in clashes with the Kings guards over the weekend.
Charles Mumbere is the King of Rwenzururu in the western Kasese region and he was detained after government forces raided his palace on Saturday. Although the recent clashes led to the death of over 62 people, the King is actually being charged with murder related to the killing of a police officer in March, not the unrest over the weekend.
King Charles Mumbere was quick to deny any involvement in the violence. Official figures showed that at least 16 police officers and 46 royal guards were killed in the clashes in Kasese district.
The bodies of the Ugandan policemen who lost their lives were transported to the main police station in the area. Human rights campaigners are asking for an independent investigation into the violence after pictures emerged of bodies dumped with hands tied behind their backs but the government is denying carrying out or ordering any extrajudicial killings in the region.
When Gen Jeje Odong, Uganda’s minister for internal affairs, was questioned about the raid, he answered that it had been a situation of self-defense. In his words;
“What do you do if I come to you, wanting to pierce you with a knife? Do you allow me to do it? Or you try to protect yourself?”
King Charles Mumbere, having spent many years living in the US – where he worked in a Pennsylvania nursing home before he became king – is being accused of launching a secessionist movement with the help of some of his supporters.
The secessionist movement is alleged to be in an effort to create a new state, to be called Yiira and has been blamed for a recent spate of attacks on security forces in the area.
Increasing tension has persisted in the kingdom in recent years, and issues have ranged from land disputes to bitter divisions over plans to divide up Kasese. Uganda’s President Museveni only officially recognized the Rwenzururu kingdom in 2009 but that recognition has done nothing to stem periodic unrests.