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Ugandan Opposition Leader ‘Not Surprised’ by Arrest Warrant

Ambassador Olara Otunnu, a former U.N. Under-Secretary General for Children’s Affairs and leader of Uganda's opposition People’s Congress Party (file)

A former U.N. Undersecretary-general for Children’s Affairs has expressed shock after a Ugandan magistrate issued an arrest warrant against him shortly after he left the country for the United States.

Ambassador Olara Otunnu, leader of Uganda’s opposition People’s Congress Party, said he will soon return to the country despite the arrest warrant against him.

“Knowing the method that Mr. [Yoweri] Museveni, the president of Uganda, uses to silence the opposition, to intimidate the opposition and to intimidate the population, I’m not entirely surprised, although I’m shocked,” he said.

The opposition leader denied committing any crime that warrants his arrest.

The former U.N official is charged with sedition and promoting sectarianism after he accused President Museveni and his private secretary of giving monies and equipment to the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

Ambassador Otunnu made the accusations on a recent radio program in Uganda’s northern Lira district.

“I said that Mr. Museveni possibly rounded up two million people in northern Uganda, herded them into concentration camps, imposed on them the most abominable conditions for a period ranging from 15 to 20 years in which everything was destroyed. In one word, Mr. Museveni committed genocide in northern Uganda,” Ambassador Otunnu said.

The opposition leader has often accused the Ugandan leader of having a long trail of evidence of massacres, human rights abuses and other atrocities committed in Uganda, as well as in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Recently, Otunnu said he presented documented evidence in order for The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) to begin an investigation and possible prosecution of President Museveni.

Ottunu said the arrest warrant against him is yet further evidence of President Museveni’s frequent use of state institutions and resources to intimidate and harass him.

But, supporters of Mr. Museveni dismissed the opposition leader’s accusations as a way to score cheap political points ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Officials of the government were not immediately available for comment, despite repeated attempts.