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Uganda: Besigye Appeals for Lifting of Passport Restriction


Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye is calling on what he calls all democracy loving people to condemn the Ugandan government for its continued seizure of his passport. Besigye and 22 others are charged with treason for allegedly plotting to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni's government by force. His passport was confiscated by the authorities for fear he might flee the country. But it was given back to him temporarily earlier this year to attend the conference of the democratic union of Africa. He is currently in the United Kingdom to attend the annual conference of the British Conservative Party. VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty caught up with Doctor Besigye in the city of Bournemouth. First Doctor Besigye explains to James the relationship between the Conservative Party and the Forum for Democratic Change party of Uganda.

“The important areas of our convergence surrounds the question of human rights, the importance of working around small government and giving people the opportunity to run their lives because one of the critical weaknesses that we are dealing with at home is the preponderance of government – government wanting to do everything and being everywhere, wanting to plan people’s lives and in the process cause a lot of harm.”

Besigye says President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in office for the past 20 years, has had the opportunity to serve during Conservative and Labor administrations. But he says both parties took the wrong approach in dealing with President Museveni.

“What was indeed frustrating for us was that whether under Labor or under the Conservatives, the foreign policy and types of interaction that Uganda experienced…was not helpful in advancing the democratization process in Uganda because they were mainly focusing on their relationship with the government without focusing on the structure of the state. That is why we are now anxious to engage with the Conservative Party and the other aspects of public policy-making in the UK to underpin the importance of focusing on institutional development within our country.”

Besigye’s trip to the UK was the last of two chances the Ugandan High Court granted him to travel outside of the country. He says he will have to surrender his passport upon return to Uganda.

“The purpose is because I am still a prisoner. I am out on bail as you know, and those were the conditions of bail. This is the deliberate intention of the government to make sure that I am paralyzed. I cannot do work for the party; I cannot travel freely; I cannot go about my business normally.”

Besigye says he’s being treated like a second-class citizen in his own country because he says he must apply for his passport each time he gets an invitation to travel outside of Uganda.

“It’s very frustrating and I think all democracy loving people in the world should condemn what the government is doing,” Besigye said.

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