Uganda lawmaker charged with treason, allowed to travel abroad


Ugandan police gave a second opposition lawmaker the green light to travel abroad for medical treatment after he was allegedly tortured in custody, but charged him with treason, his lawyer said.

Francis Zaake and four other lawmakers, including popular singer Bobi Wine, were detained on August 13 Arua, accused of throwing stones at a presidential convoy during the campaign for a parliamentary seat.

All five lawmakers rejected the accusation.

Among them is Robert Kyagulanyi, better known by his stage name of Bobi Wine. He arrived in the United States last weekend to seek medical treatment for what he said was torture by authorities.

Zaake also alleged torture at the hands of security forces while in custody. Authorities rejected the allegations.

On August31, both were detained at Kampala international airport as they prepared to travel abroad for medical care.
“The police charged the Hon Zaake with treason and unlawful escape and bonded him for a month to allow him travel for medical treatment,” his lawyer Nicholas Opiyo said on Twitter.

Opiyo told Reuters Zaake was on his way to the airport to travel to India for treatment.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Friday’s arrests prompted protests in parts of Kampala, with demonstrators burning tyres and piling rocks and other barricades in roads.

Kyagulanyi was elected last year and amassed a large following among youth electrified by his scathing criticism of Museveni, sometimes delivered in songs.

Museveni has won praise in the West for his opposition to militant Islam in the region, but many Ugandans regard the 73-year-old as out of touch with his people, nearly 80% of who are under 30.

He has been in power since 1986 and has repeatedly been accused by opponents of rights abuses and the widespread use of security forces to suppress opposition to his rule. He denies charges government is involved in rights violations.