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Ugandan Opposition Leader Returned To Jail

  • James Butty

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has denied any role in the arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has been charged with treason and terrorism. President Museveni told reporters Tuesday that he has no power to decide who is prosecuted in Uganda. Meanwhile, Mr. Besigye, who was granted temporary bail by the High Court, was sent back to jail Tuesday, an hour after being declared a free man.

Nsaba Buturo is Uganda’s minister of information. He told English to Africa reporter James Butty that Mr. Besigye was returned to jail because he faces additional charges of terrorism and illegal possession of firearms. In a military court, these crimes do not warrant bail. Mr. Buturo also said Mr. Besigye was brought to the military court because he is a soldier. He says the Ugandan government believes Mr. Besigye is a terrorist. Mr. Buturo says it is wrong to compare the Besigye situation to the armed struggle that brought President Museveni to power. He says the government believes that at that time, there was a need for President Museveni to take up arms to fight against the government then in power, which he says was promoting injustice. Mr. Buturo says there is no justification today for anyone to take up arms against the government. He says the Besigye case is now before what he calls “the independent courts of Uganda.” Mr. Buturo says the Ugandan army court is a legal institution having equal footing with the High Court of Uganda. He rejected suggestions that his government charged Mr. Besigye with terrorism and possession of arms as a way to prevent him from challenging President Museveni in next year’s elections. He says the opposition is entitled to such views, but he says the government wants to let the courts decide Mr. Besigye’s fate.

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