Uganda charges pres­i­dent’s ri­val with treason

Pretoria News - - WORLD -

A RE­TIRED Ugan­dan gen­eral seek­ing to un­seat vet­eran Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni was charged yes­ter­day with treason and un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of weapons – a case un­der­scor­ing an on­go­ing crack­down on op­po­si­tion fig­ures ahead of elec­tions next year.

Henry Tu­mukunde, who has also served as a se­cu­rity min­is­ter and in­tel­li­gence chief, pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Kampala court and was re­manded to a max­i­mum-se­cu­rity prison with the next hear­ing set for March 30.

Tu­mukunde was de­tained last week along­side sev­eral mem­bers of his fam­ily and po­lit­i­cal al­lies, some of whom have since been re­leased.

He has been ac­cused of ut­ter­ing state­ments meant to in­cite neigh­bour­ing Rwanda to in­vade Uganda and over­throw its gov­ern­ment.

Uganda and its south-western neigh­bour Rwanda are at odds over var­i­ous po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic is­sues.

Rwan­dan Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame ac­cuses Uganda of sup­port­ing dis­si­dents sworn to oust­ing him.

Kagame closed Rwanda’s bor­der with Uganda in February last year.

An­gola-led diplo­matic ef­forts to re­solve the stand-off have been to no avail.

While ap­pear­ing on a talk show on Ugan­dan NBS tele­vi­sion on March 4, Tu­mukunde said: “If I was Rwanda, I would wish to support peo­ple who want to cause change in Uganda.”

Mu­sev­eni, who took power in a 1986 coup, is widely ex­pected to seek re-elec­tion in a vote due early next year.

His party is un­der pres­sure from the in­creas­ing pop­u­lar­ity of mu­si­cian-turned-law­maker Robert Kyag­u­lanyi,

bet­ter known as Bobi Wine, who has amassed a large fol­low­ing among youth who are wooed by blunt crit­i­cism of the gov­ern­ment in his lyrics.

Op­po­si­tion lead­ers and rights groups have ac­cused Mu­sev­eni’s gov­ern­ment of crack­ing down sys­tem­at­i­cally on its crit­ics with the use of in­tim­i­da­tion, de­ten­tion, tor­ture and tear-gassing of ral­lies to dis­cour­age dis­sent.

Ugan­dan of­fi­cials deny all such ac­cu­sa­tions, say­ing most ar­rests and de­ten­tions are car­ried out in the course of en­forc­ing pub­lic or­der man­age­ment laws.

| Reuters

UGAN­DAN pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Henry Tu­mukunde is sup­ported by prison war­dens as he leaves the City Hall Grade 1 Mag­is­trate’s Court, where he was charged with treason and il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of fire arms, in Kampala, Uganda, yes­ter­day.

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