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Besigye Tells Supporters to Continue Fighting for Better Uganda

FILE - Opposition leader Kizza Besigye speaks during a news conference at his home at the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 21, 2016.

Ugandan opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change has urged his supporters not to give up the fight for a better Uganda.

Besigye told his supporters that they are fighting to reclaim their country, and that until that is achieved there is no turning back, the Ugandan Monitor reported.

Besigye, who came second in last February’s presidential election, was arrested and charged with treason after he declared himself president. He was released on bail Tuesday. In issuing the bail, the judge admonished the opposition leader to refrain from acts of violence and preserve peace in the community until his case is disposed-off.

George Kanyeihamba, a former justice of the Ugandan Supreme Court, said while the judge has the power to set conditions for bail, especially in the case of a treason charge, Ugandans are baffled by the restrictions which they may view as depriving Besigye of his constitutional rights.

“Defiance is not an offense under our law," he said. "But if defiance means that I will not obey your unlawful order; I will not respect when you violate the constitution, then they are preventing him from doing what the constitution requires them to do, namely the right to demonstrate, the right march against unlawful orders and the brutality of the police."

In effect, they are criminalizing activities which are constitutional and legitimate under the law,” he said.

"Most Ugandans believe that the reason he is being chased and arrested and indicted for non-existing offenses is not so much that they fear any break down of law and order but because of his popularity," Kanyeihamba said. "I think that this is what the government fears. It fears that his continuous popularity undermines their legitimacy and reminds Ugandans and the world that the elections we had in February were not free or fair, he said.

Kanyeihamba said he has no confidence in the judicial system. "I am almost a one-man campaign who says that the judiciary has been compromised; that the judicial today in Uganda has been corrupted; that many judicial officers, including judges are corrupt,” Kanyeihamba said.