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Tens of thousands of Ugandan royalists slashed trees, burned grass and hauled debris Saturday from the hilltop palace that soon will return to its owner, the king of Buganda.

But before Ronald Muwenda Mutebi, the king of Uganda's largest tribe, can repossess the palace -- which had been turned into a military barracks -- it needed a thorough scrubbing.

Mutebi, 46, a British-trained lawyer, generally spends his time raising money to help street children and advising his subjects where to plant trees.

But after 1993, when President Yoweri Museveni restored traditional monarchies in the country, Mutebi found himself in the role of the Kabaka, or king of Buganda. He is preparing to move into the palace at Lubiri, just west of Kampala, where former dictator Milton Obote sent troops in May 1966 to massacre 2,000 followers of Mutebi's father.

Uganda's civil wars and the dictatorships of Obote and Idi Amin left 800,000 people dead and the country impoverished.

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