Fall of the mountain kingOne year after a massacre in Uganda, a king faces trial
More than 100 people died when police and soldiers raided a royal compound. Who was to blame?
THE palace gates are locked, but the bullet holes remain. It is a year since the Ugandan army and police raided the compound of the Rwenzururu king in the western town of Kasese. More than 100 people were killed, the bloodiest incident in the country for more than a decade. The king, Charles Wesley Mumbere, and nearly 200 people were arrested; they still await trial, on charges including murder, terrorism and treason. “The situation is only calm on the surface,” says Geoffrey Madebeya, a local councillor. “Inside, we have tears.”
The Bakonzo people, the main ethnic group in Kasese, straddle the vertiginous borderland between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the Rwenzori mountains. It is here, the Ugandan government alleges, that Bakonzo radicals want to carve out an independent kingdom. The king denies this, but people in these parts have long felt marginalised by the state. Deadly violence erupted in 2014 after groups of young Bakonzo men attacked police and army posts. On November 26th 2016, the day before the palace raid, at least 40 civilians and 16 police officers died in clashes at the kingdom’s offices and rural police stations.