Lawmakers allied to Uganda opposition leader charged with murder


Two opposition lawmakers in Uganda were charged with murder and remanded on Wednesday for the second time in a month, an official with their party said.

Lawmakers Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana were each charged with one count of murder in a court in Masaka, about 130 km (80 miles) south of the capital Kampala.

Both are members of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) led by Bobi Wine, a pop star-turned-politician and the leading opponent of long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, 77.

Joel Ssenyonyi, a lawmaker and NUP spokesperson of NUP, told Reuters the charges were politically motivated.

“This is a calculated strategy to attack us, to weaken us by witch-hunting and persecuting us as much as possible,” he said.

Both MPs were remanded to prison and were ordered to re-appear in court on 13 October, he said.

“Museveni’s strategy is arrest and keep our leaders in jail,” he said.

A police spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

On Tuesday police said they were holding the two MPs on treason charges. Police did not say on Wednesday whether the treason charges would still be pursued.

The allegations against the MPs stem from a rash of killings in central Uganda, an opposition stronghold, that left at least 26 people dead.

Most people in the area voted for the opposition lawmakers in Uganda’s last election in January.

Security officers arrested both lawmakers earlier this month and charged them each with three counts of murder. They pleaded not guilty and were subsequently remanded.

After spending more than a fortnight in jail, they were granted bail. But both lawmakers were subsequently re-arrested.

Museveni has ruled the East African country since 1986 and the opposition has accused him of grooming his son, commander of land forces in the military, to succeed him. He has denied the accusation.