By Elias Biryabarema

 

KAMPALA (Reuters) - A Ugandan traditional leader was charged with terrorism on Tuesday after clashes between his guards and Ugandan security forces last month left at least 62 people dead, court papers seen by Reuters showed.

 

Charles Wesley Mumbere was initially charged with murder on November 29, two days after a combined army and police force assaulted his palatial residence after a stand-off with his guards who authorities said had refused an order to disarm and surrender.

 

Uganda has several so-called traditional leaders, local aristocrats who play ceremonial and cultural roles in their regions. They also often wield considerable political influence.

 

Mumbere's home region is located near the east African country's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

 

The area has been the scene of intermittent skirmishes between security personnel and gunmen. Officials have accused Mumbere and his officials of fomenting unrest to create an independent republic.

Court papers seen by Reuters showed Mumbere, who was appearing in court on the initial murder charge, faced added charges of terrorism, aggravated robbery and attempted murder.

Mumbere and 12 others who did not appear with him in court were accused of perpetrating attacks on police stations "with intent to intimidate the public or a section of the public," and conducting such attacks "indiscriminately".

Long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, 72, who was declared winner of the country's disputed presidential election in February, performed dismally in Mumbere's Rwenzori region in the poll.

The area heavily favored Museveni's rival, Kizza Besigye, and opposition officials have accused the government of deliberately fomenting violence in the region as punishment for its rejection of the ruling party.

The government denies the accusations.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Tom Heneghan)