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Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:08 UK

Landmark royal meeting in Uganda

Police in Kampala, 12/09
Hundreds of people were arrested over the riots

Uganda's president and the king of the nation's largest ethnic group have met for the first time in four years, weeks after deadly riots engulfed Kampala.

President Yoweri Museveni and King Ronald Mutebi of the Baganda group held an hour of talks behind closed doors. Both men said the meeting went well.

The king's supporters rioted after the government tried to stop the monarch from visiting a nearby district.

More than 20 people died in clashes between protesters and security forces.

The BBC's Joshua Mmali, in the capital, Kampala, says officials insisted before the meeting that the two men would not discuss politics - because the king is a cultural leader, not a political one.

We want to hear them agreeing with each other - we are Ugandans, we are supposed to be one
Kampala resident

The king's supporters have long called for the restoration of a federal administration that would give their largely ceremonial king the formal political power he is currently denied.

They are also seeking more control over their traditional lands, which include prime farmland they say has been taken by other ethnic groups.

But an official statement after the talks confirmed only that the pair talked about a radio station loyal to the king which was closed down during the riots for broadcasting anti-government messages.

Collective decisions

Before the talks, several Ugandans told the BBC's Network Africa programme they were hopeful the meeting would help resolve the issues.

Uganda map

"We want to hear them agreeing with each other - we are Ugandans, we are supposed to be one," said one Kampala resident.

But analyst Frederick Golooba Mutebi, from Makerere University Institute of Social Research, said he was sceptical about what the talks could achieve.

He said the make-up of the country should not be decided by two men behind closed doors.

"This issue should be put out in a wider forum where it could be discussed by Ugandans collectively," he said.

The country's traditional kingdoms were banned in 1966 but reinstated by Mr Museveni in 1993.

Most of the residents of the Buganda Kingdom are ethnic Baganda and are loyal to King Ronald.

But many residents in the Kayunga district, where the king had intended to visit, say they have seceded from his kingdom.

The government said it had feared that the king's visit would spark violence between his supporters and opponents.

But some analysts believe the president is deliberately stirring up trouble within the kingdom in a bid to reduce the king's influence.



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SEE ALSO
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King's supporters riot in Uganda
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Land battle looms in Uganda
09 Oct 08 |  Africa
Ugandan apology for royal arrests
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Bugandan king's healthy message
19 Feb 04 |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
29 Apr 11 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Uganda
29 Apr 11 |  Country profiles

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