The Pan-African Parliament has called on the Ugandan government to immediately and unconditionally release opposition leader Kizza Besigye. The Parliament is made up of five members of the national parliaments of each of the 53 African countries. In a strongly worded resolution, the Pan-African Parliament says the continued detention of Dr. Besigye threatens stability in Uganda.
Nsaba Buturo is Uganda’s minister of information. He told English to Africa reporter James Butty the Pan-African Parliament does not have the mandate to interfere in Uganda’s internal affairs. He says even the African Union does not have the mandate to take on cases like that of Mr. Besigye. Mr. Buturo says the case against Dr. Besigye is criminal, not political. Mr. Buturo added that members of the Ugandan parliament who are also members of the Pan-African Parliament are using the Pan-African Parliament. He says Uganda is a sovereign state with its own independent judiciary. He rejects arguments that the Pan-African Parliament is mandated by African Union rules to promote human rights and consolidate democracy in Africa. Mr. Buturo says that argument would apply only if the case against Dr. Besigye was of a political nature. He says his government would not be surprised if the East African Parliament meeting in Tanzania came out with the same resolution condemning his government. Mr. Buturo says rather than interfere in the work of an independent judiciary, the Pan-African and East African Parliaments should be more concerned with a speedy, fair and transparent trial against Dr. Besigye.