Police in Uganda have arrested Charles Wesley Mumbere, the king of the Bakonzo people in Rwenzururu, over deadly clashes between police and militia that have killed 55 people. Ugandan troops stormed Mumbere’s palace this past Sunday, overwhelming his security in a fierce firefight before ultimately arresting the tribal king. As Mumbere’s spokesman remarked, “the situation [was] very volatile, many of our guards were killed.” Later sources confirmed that 46 royal guards were killed. Mumbere now remains under police custody at the Ugandan capital of Kampala for questioning.
Some of Mumbere’s avid supporters are vocal critics of Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, and as such, the government has accused Mumbere of supporting and leading the rebels. President Museveni has struggled to gain the support of the Bakonzo people ever since he assumed office in 1986.
To further complicate matters, certain radical rebels from the Rwenzururu kingdom that support Mumbere have called for the king to back the secession effort from Uganda in order to establish the Republic of Yiira, which would be located at the Western Ugandan border. These separatists have already created military practice camps in the mountains where they allegedly formed a rebel Republic of Yiira government.
Since the establishment of these military practice camps, rebel attacks on police posts and other government areas have resulted in many deaths, ultimately culminating in Mumbere’s detainment at Kampala. Many government officials have accused Mumbere of developing explicit ties with the separatists who advocated for the creation of the Republic of Yiira. In particular, Mumbere is accused of sheltering rebel fighters in his palace in order to further challenge the Ugandan government.
President Musevni declared in a powerful statement that “Uganda will not lose one inch of territory for the benefit of the so-called Republic of Yiira.” Mumbere, however, has denied all involvement in the rebel attacks, stating that he had no connections with the militia force that was attacking police outposts.