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Triumphant return of a Ugandan king seven years after being accused of treason

Triumphant return of a Ugandan king seven years after being accused of treason
Rwenzururu King Charles Wesley Mumbere (R) arrives with security personnel at ...   -  
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A local ruler in western Uganda made a triumphant return to his region on Wednesday, four months after treason charges were dropped against him in 2016 after he was accused of being responsible for violence that left more than a hundred people dead.

King of Rwenzururu since 2009, Charles Wesley Mumbere was welcomed to the town of Kasese by a jubilant crowd, to the sound of horns and whistles, according to images broadcast by Uganda Broadcasting Corporation.

The sovereign waved to the crowd from the sunroof of his car, followed by several hundred people.

Prosecutors announced in June that they were dropping the charges against Charles Wesley Mumbere, who was accused of treason, murder and terrorism after deadly clashes on 26 and 27 November 2016 between the Ugandan army and his palace guards in Kasese.

Detained for around two months, he was released provisionally in February 2017, but banned from returning to his kingdom. Since then, he has been under house arrest on the outskirts of the capital Kampala.

On 26 and 27 November, the army stormed the royal palace in Kasese, accusing the sovereign of wanting to create an independent state with the help of his guard, described as a "militia". According to the authorities, the palace guards had previously attacked police officers.

An official toll put the number of people killed during the two days of clashes at more than 100.

In a report published in 2017, the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that the violence began after government forces forced their way into a local administrative office, killing eight guards and triggering a wave of reprisals in which the palace guards used machetes to defend themselves. According to HRW, more than 155 people, including 15 children, were killed in the clashes. 

The Kingdom of Rwenzururu is a traditional monarchy near the Rwenzori Mountains, straddling the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose members are of the Bakonzo ethnic group. 

The monarchy turned into a separatist movement when the Bakonzo proclaimed their kingdom in 1962. The unrest ended in 1982 when the Bakonzo laid down their arms in exchange for local autonomy. 

President Yoweri Museveni - who has led the country since 1986 - officially recognised the kingdom in 2009, but the ethnic and political conflict continued, fuelled by a feeling of declassification among the local population.

Since 2014, the local population has carried out a number of attacks on the police force.

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