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Ugandan Opposition Leader Claims Political Persecution

A Ugandan opposition leader is facing charges for criticizing the Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni.

Dr. Olara Otunnu, the leader of the opposition Uganda Peoples Congress party and a former United Nations Under Secretary General has been summoned by the Ugandan police twice this week to answer charges of promoting sectarianism. He has so far refused to answer the summons saying he has not broken any Ugandan law.

The charges stem from remarks Dr. Otunnu made on a local radio station where he accused the Ugandan president of aiding the war in northern Uganda.

“I have not committed any crime,” said Dr Otunnu, “what I said is entirely in the public domain. In terms of criticizing the government; in terms of stating the political situation in Uganda, so everything I said about the genocide committed in northern Uganda by Mr. Museveni, all the atrocities in Luwero, and the torture chambers, is true.

He said he can back up all his assertion with information and evidence and that the crime the police claim he committed does not exist in the penal code of Uganda.

Otunnu was early this week served with police summons to answer charges of criminal defamation of the Ugandan leader. Later in the week he was summoned again to answer another charge of promoting sectarianism referring exactly to the same remarks.

“In both instances I see no crime I committed. I am happy to appear before a court of law to answer any alleged charges but I am not going to appear at the police headquarters to be interrogated by the police.”

Otunnu described the charges as a case of political harassment and persecution.
He, however, said the police are a victim itself because it is under directive from Museveni “to get me no matter how and no matter what the law says.”

The police, he said, “are corrupted and the role of the police is being abused by Mr. Museveni.”
The former diplomat said he is a law abiding citizen. “I will comply with all the laws of Uganda but I will not assist Museveni in breaking the laws of the country. I will not assist him in corrupting the police.”

He vowed to expose the “layers of lies and terror” during the reign of Museveni and to set the people of Uganda free and that process begins with telling the truth.”
The police have reportedly forwarded the file involving Otunnu’s case to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Kizza Besigye, the head of Uganda’s largest opposition party, is also being investigated for claiming the government secretly leased Lake Kyoga in central Uganda to a South African company.

Uganda’s general elections are scheduled for February 2011, and Museveni is again expected to seek re-election after presidential term limits were scrapped in 2005.

Otunnu and Besigye are currently campaigning independently but they are expected to formally join forces in September.