Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Kizza Besigye has been charged with treason and remanded to Moroto government prison.
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Dr Besigye was on Friday evening charged before Moroto Chief Magistrates Court presided over by the acting chief magistrate Charles Yepeise and remanded until May 25 when he re-appear in court for further mention of the case.
Dr Besigye is said to have appeared in court without his lawyer before the charges were read to him. However, he was not allowed to take plea because treason is a capital offence only triable by the High Court.
According to prosecution, Besigye in various places declared himself as president for having won the February 18 presidential elections. Dr Besigye was brought to court at around 6: 30pm amidst heavy security deployment.
Besigye’s arrest and detention
As President Museveni was swearing in at Kololo Independence Grounds for his new term on Thursday May 12, his government used an old colonial tactic of banishing critics to the eastern Uganda region of Karamoja.
The police on Wednesday evening transferred by plane, Dr Kizza Besigye, the first runner up in the February polls, to detention in Moroto, after he was earlier arrested in Kampala.
Dr Besigye was arrested after he skirted a 24-hour security surveillance at his Kasangati home in Wakiso District to unexpectedly emerge in the city’s busy business district, attracting frenzied crowds.
The British colonialists often arrested Independence struggle leaders Ignatius Musaazi, Augustine Kamya, Godfrey Binaisa and Paulo Muwanga, among others, in Kampala and detained them in Karamoja subregion after they criticised the colonial leadership in the 1950s.
Highly placed sources said Dr Besigye was flown to Moroto in a helicopter that landed at Nadunget airstrip at about 6pm. He was placed and driven away in a white double-cabin pick-up truck, whose front and rear number plates were covered.
Dr Besigye has repeatedly asked police to indict him formally and remand him to a proper gazetted place instead of turning his own home into a prison.
The government placed the four-time presidential contender, who claims to have won the February 18, election with 52 per cent, under house arrest on voting day until after a March 31 Supreme Court ruling declared that Museveni was validly re-elected.
Dr Besigye rejected the outcome of both the vote and court verdict, announcing a raft of what he called “defiance campaign” activities, ostensibly to reclaim the people’s power he said had been lost under the incumbent.
The Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma, following a one-sided hearing of the government petition, issued an order which, among other things, bans the defiance campaign. The Uganda Law Society, which has a non-binding mandate to advise government on legal matters, questioned the wide reach of the order on civil liberties and the manner in which it was issued.
Police seized on the order to again place Dr Besigye under house arrest, until he showed up in the central business district of the capital on the eve of Museveni’s swearing-in.
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