Ugandan bails traditional leader detained on terrorism charges

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KAMPALA (Reuters) – A Ugandan tribal leader accused of leading a secessionist movement in the country’s western region was released on bail on Monday after more than two months in jail on charges including treason and terrorism, an official told Reuters.

Security forces detained Charles Wesley Mumbere in November after his royal guards clashed with military and police who accused them of refusing an order to disarm and surrender.

He was subsequently charged with treason, murder, terrorism and other offences alongside dozens of his guards detained in the aftermath of fighting that left more than 60 people dead.

Government officials accuse Mumbere, a traditional leader of the Bakonzo people in Uganda’s Rwenzori region near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, of seeking to create a separate state.

Judiciary spokesman Solomon Muyita said as part of bail conditions Mumbere was barred from travelling to the region and must stay in the capital Kampala and its vicinity. He is also barred from travelling abroad.

The Rwenzori area heavily favours the opposition in Uganda and in last year’s presidential elections, incumbent President Yoweri Museveni was defeated by his main oppoennt, Kizza Besigye in the region.

Critics of the government accuse Museveni of using security forces to unleash violence in the region in retaliation for its rejection of the ruling party.

Officials have repeatedly denied those accusations.

Rights group Amnesty International said security forces had carried out extrajudicial killings in its clashes with the guards. Those charges were denied, too.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by xx)

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