Ugandan MP faces treason charges


An opposition Ugandan lawmaker was charged with treason over his alleged role in the stoning of President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy this month.

A civilian magistrate ordered Robert Kyagulanyi remanded in custody until August 30 and granted him access to private doctors, citing “health of the accused”, according to footage broadcast on private broadcaster NBS Uganda.

Kyagulanyi, who entered parliament last year, is unable to stand after being beaten while in detention, his lawyer told Reuters, citing relatives who visited him. The Ugandan government says the assault accusation is “rubbish”.

In the TV footage, Kyagulanyi was seen walking with a crutch and assistance of prison wardens when entering the courtroom.

Earlier on Thursday, a separate military court dropped charges of unlawful weapons possession against Kyagulanyi, a popular musician whose lyrics criticism of Museveni’s government won him a large youth following.

His detention, along with four other politicians critical of Museveni, sparked two days of anti-government demonstrations in Kampala and other parts of the country.

Three other lawmakers and other people were alo charged with treason over their alleged role in the convoy stoning.

Separately, police arrested two opposition politicians for defying orders not to leave their homes after police placed them under “preventative arrest” to head off further unrest.

Ugandan police spokesman Emilian Kayima said police received “intelligence reports these leaders were inciting people to riot yet they have other lawful avenues, like petitioning a higher court, to seek redress about the fate of their colleague”. He was referring to Kyagulanyi.
“We don’t want to experience what we went through on Monday,” he said, referring to a demonstration where Ugandan police fired tear gas and military units were deployed to disperse protesters.

Representatives of several prominent opposition politicians said on social media they were prevented from leaving home and planned to attend Kyagulanyi’s court appearance.

Protesters and opposition supporters accuse Museveni, in power since 1986, of stifling dissent through intimidation, beatings and detentions, charges which his government denies.

Last October, when parliament was debating whether to remove a constitutional age limit that would have barred Museveni from seeking re-election in 2021, security forces and protesters clashed on the streets and two protesters died.

The presidential age limit has since been removed.