Loyalists of Tooro’s renegade prince David Kijanangoma Araali on Thursday evening battled with anti-riot police in Fort Portal Town in Kabarole District.
A big crowd poured on the streets to welcome Kijanangoma, who was returning from Kampala where he had been mobilising Batooro in a fundraising drive for development of his “palace” in Rwengoma village.
The prince, who declared himself king of Tooro recently, was welcomed in a convoy of vehicles and entered Fort Portal Town at about 7pm.
His supporters marched from Kaswa Trading Centre, about 4 miles away, to Fort Portal on the Kampala highway. His motorcade paralysed traffic in the town.
The crowd accompanied Kijanangoma to his home in Rwengoma as they exalted him as king.
However, what started as a calm procession turned chaotic when riot police intercepted Kijanangoma’s supporters in Kisenyi near Tin Petrol Station, a few metres to his Rwengoma home.
The crowd pelted police with stones and the police responded by lobbing tear gas canisters at Kijanangoma’s supporters and firing live bullets into the air.
The district police commander, Mr Geoffrey Kahebwa, was in charge of the operation. However, the driver of a police patrol truck lost control and the vehicle overturned. The police abandoned the operation, which gave chance to Kijanangoma’s loyalists to proceed to his residence.
Kijanangoma condemned the police and vowed to continue his defiance of King Oyo Nyimba Iguru.
“My supporters are peaceful but to our disappointment police has turned violent to disrupt them. We shall not tolerate the police brutality and intimidation,” he told his jubilating loyalists.
Kijanangoma recently announced that he would overthrow King Oyo, his cousin, for his alleged failure to develop the kingdom.
Rwenzori regional police spokesperson Bakari Muga Bashir said anyone intending to hold a procession in town should notify police, which Kijanangoma supporters did not do.
“We as police, we shall not allow anyone to interfere with traffic and affect other road users. This is an offence,” he said.